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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Upstate wants people who have recovered from COVID-19 for clinical trial

Ryan Delaney
WRVO News File Photo

Upstate Medical University in Syracuse is part of a nationwide emergency clinical trial using blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat people still sick with the disease.

The idea, according to Dr. Timothy Endy, chair of microbiology and immunology at Upstate, is that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have developed antibodies against the disease. And those protective proteins could help people currently fighting disease.

"That’s called convalescent plasma therapy," Endy said. "Which is passive immuno-therapy where we give patients the plasma containing very high levels of antibody from recovered patients, in hopes of having them improve, and prevent death. Preventing the need to go on a ventilator, or get off a ventilator quicker."

Endy said doctors in China and Italy have told them they’ve seen improvements in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms after patients received the plasma. And Endy said the side effects are minimal; 

"Basically we’re using a therapeutic where a lot of the evidence is unknown. But the risks are minimal, the benefits are great, so the FDA is authorizing its use as a potential therapy," he said.

Upstate will screen recovered patients, and they’ll be tested again for COVID-19. If the test is negative, Upstate will work with the American Red Cross to collect the plasma, which would be distributed to patients.

Upstate is currently looking for volunteers for the project.If you are 18 years or older, have tested positive for COVID-19 and are now 14 days out from your last symptom, call Upstate Clinical Trials at 315-464-9869 to arrange a screening appointment.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.