Many states began relaxing their restrictions in May after sheltering in place for several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the number of cases is rising again, making it essential to continue fighting this disease.
A vaccine against COVID-19 isn’t available yet, but organizations like New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) are currently working to find one. However, these efforts require the community’s ongoing support.
NYBCe’s COVID-19 Response Efforts
NYBCe’s responses to COVID-19 include the collection of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), vaccine research and development (R&D) and COVID-19 research. Learn more about each of these initiatives.
COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
NYBCe has been collecting convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 since early March 2020. The organization must continue doing so to maintain the plasma bank that hospitals need to treat patients with COVID-19 infections that are serious or immediately life-threatening.
Currently, NYBCe is shipping convalescent plasma to states hit the hardest by COVID-19 infections, including Florida, Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, and California. The organization has collected over 45,000 units of convalescent plasma from donors as of July 27, 2020. In order to keep up with the surging COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and the high demand for this life-saving resource, NYBCe will need to collect 10,000 units of convalescent plasma units per month.
If you have recovered from COVID-19, please consider joining NYBCe’s fight to save lives by donating convalescent plasma. Plasma is collected through plasmapheresis and is similar to how NYBC collects regular plasma and platelets. You can also donate plasma via automation, provided you meet the criteria. More details are available here.
Vaccine Research & Development
Your immune system mobilizes cells and antibodies specific to pathogens (such as viruses) you are exposed to. These cells and viruses help you fight the pathogen, and protect you from future infections. Vaccines trigger your immune system to produce antibodies and cells directed against a specific pathogen (such as SARS-CoV-2) without being exposed to that pathogen.
NYBCe’s research efforts have identified two promising candidates for vaccines that could help prevent COVID-19 infections. The first candidate is a messenger RNA (mRNA) delivery system, a new patent-pending process that allows for faster vaccine development. The mRNA vaccine method is a new technology and has never been used in humans prior to COVID-19. Delivering RNA to human cells makes the viral antigen that the immune cells use to create antibodies and block the virus instead of a protein vaccine. Dr. Lanying Du and her team currently have a patent pending for the construction of their vaccine design.
The second vaccine follows a traditional peptide-based delivery system — similar to the annual flu vaccine. This vaccine will be paired with a patented novel adjuvant developed by Dr. Sara Lustigman, which can boost a patient’s immune response and create a more effective vaccine.
The Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) is NYBCe’s research division, which is currently engaged in multiple projects related to COVID-19. In addition to preclinical trials for a vaccine, it is also conducting clinical research with patients to understand this disease’s relationship with the immune system. Additional research projects by the Institute include antibody testing and biomarker screening.
LFKRI is also studying CCP, COVID-19 therapeutic agents and SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors. In June 2020, Dr. Larry Luchsinger and other researchers from LFKRI and Rockefeller University published a study titled “Serological Analysis of New York City COVID19 Convalescent Plasma Donors.” The research team analyzed 370 plasma samples donated from people who recovered from COVID-19 and found that 88% of the people generated varying levels of antibodies to the virus, while 17% had almost no antibody response. You can read more about the study here. More research is needed to better understand the immune response in COVID-19 disease.
Ways to Support NYBCe’s COVID-19 Efforts
Whether you’re looking for ways to support your community during the COVID-19 pandemic or want to join the fight to save lives, NYBCe has a variety of opportunities.
Donate COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
NYBCe currently needs convalescent plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19. This disease currently has no proven treatment, but CCP may contain antibodies against COVID-19 that could help fight this disease. NYBCe needs to maintain a bank of CCP that hospitals can use to treat patients with serious COVID-19 infections.
Please consider filling out NYBCe’s donor registration form if you have recovered from COVID-19. You can also find out more about COVID-19 convalescent plasma and its role in the pandemic here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected NYBCe’s blood supply, so the organization is issuing an urgent call for healthy donors. Now that hospitals have resumed elective surgeries, the need and demand for blood has already rebounded to pre-COVID-19 level. However, the available supply is still dangerously low. A one-week supply is the minimum safe level for blood, but current reserves are far below this mark. Schedule an appointment to make a blood donation.
Make a Financial Contribution
NYBCe needs financial support to continue providing healthcare services during the pandemic that are vital to communities. These services include collecting CCP, testing it for antibodies, and distributing it to hospitals. NYBCe also needs financial contributions to help fund research and development efforts for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Learn more about how your contributions can help NYBCe fight COVID-19 by clicking here.
Tell Others About the Cause
You can also help spread the word about making financial contributions, CCP donations and blood donations to support NYBCe’s COVID-19 efforts, even if you aren’t able to do so yourself. Social media is a great way to tell others about the organization’s needs, as it’s both effective and inexpensive. Ensure your social media posts contain the various links included in this blog post. You can also support COVID-19 initiatives by asking your HR department about starting a fund-matching campaign.
NYBCe Needs Your Help
NYBCe is already conducting multiple programs to fight COVID-19, and is also planning additional initiatives for the future. Maintaining an adequate supply of blood and CCP while researching other treatments for COVID-19 at the same time is one of the most challenging aspects of this process. NYBCe needs both CCP donations and financial contributions to keep up this multi-channel fight against COVID-19.