Plasma

A patient who recovered from COVID-19 has plasma taken at a hospital in Pavia, Italy.

STAMFORD — Researchers are isolating antibodies in people who’ve recovered from the coronavirus to see if they can help the hundreds of hospital patients struggling with the sometimes-deadly respiratory infection.

The effort is underway at Stamford Health — which is conducting Connecticut’s first clinical trial — and at Nuvance Health in Danbury and Norwalk, which is collecting the plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients for a similar study later this month.

“Plasma therapy has a long history of success in helping patients with diseases such as polio, measles and even the flu in their recovery” says Dr. Paul Sachs, director of pulmonary medicine at Stamford Health and a principal investigator for the trial. “Pilot studies at other organizations have shown promise, and we hope that we’ll see those successes replicated for COVID-19.”

The federal Food and Drug Administration agrees, up to a point.

“Although promising, convalescent plasma has not yet been shown to be effective in COVID-19,” the FDA said in a statement late last week. “It is therefore important to determine through clinical trials, before routinely administering convalescent plasma to patients with COVID-19, that it is safe and effective to do so.”

To assist those trials in Stamford and across the country, the American Red Cross is looking for plasma donors who are fully recovered from COVID-19.

“People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus,” the Red Cross said in a statement. “This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients seriously ill with COVID-19.”

At the same time, Nuvance Health has launched a blood plasma program to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. The network’s Connecticut hospitals include Danbury and Norwalk hospitals, and its New York hospitals include Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.

Plasma donors are asked to register by filling out a questionnaire at veoci.com/veoci/p/form/d9keubfc4gca.

Connecticut, in solidarity with the rest of the country and the world, is fighting an unprecedented pandemic that has infected 7,700 people in the state since March 8, and killed 277.

Most people recover from the infection with moderate symptoms. The elderly and those in frail health are most susceptible to serious illness and death.