A new plasma treatment from Mayo Clinic provides hope

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Mayo Clinic is turning to a new program using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help build immunity for others.

Joining the Morning News with Dave Lee on Monday, Dr. Michael Joyner said this breakthrough could help be a jump start on fighting the disease.  "Hopefully, this will modify the course of the disease so they don't end up in the ICU, or if they're in the ICU they get out sooner," said Joyner.  Mayo Clinic will help lead the trial on using blood plasma.  

This same antibody technique was also used to fight other diseases, such as the 1918 flu pandemic, SARS and Ebola.  The harvested plasma is used to help treat the sickest patients who are not yet on a ventilator to stave off the worst of the disease.  It could also be used as a treatment given to people exposed to coronavirus, but not yet showing symptoms. 

Dr. Joyner says institutions across the country are already signing up, which Mayo will need to get access to donors.  "Right now our big issue is getting donors in.  This is a complex process. Getting them to a blood thinner where they can actually have their plasma drawn, and then getting it to hospitals that are actually in a position to give it to patients." 

One of the biggest problems continues to be the lack of testing.  While Mayo and others continue to ramp that up, there is also hope that testing for COVID-19 in those who have recovered from illness, to make sure they actually had coronavirus, will be available soon.  Called "look back testing", it is just coming online this week according to Joyner, and he says there will be a big announcement coming from Mayo.

Click below to listen to the entire interview with Dr. Joyner and click here to see all of WCCO's coronavirus coverage