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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Mayo Clinic To Begin Testing Antibody Treatments

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Dr. Elitza Theel specializes in clinical microbiology at the Mayo Clinic.

She's been involved in collecting blood plasma from patients who were confirmed to have COVID-19 and recovered.

"We will first test with these new antibody tests to make sure that the donor has developed an immune response and has made antibodies to COVID-19." Theel said.

The Convalescent Plasma Program would ideally lead to transfusing that plasma (antibodies) from a recovered patient into someone who is sick.

The concept has been used before.

"Most notably you'll hear reference of it being used in the 1918 pandemic flu," Theel said.

Studying the plasma for antibodies requires a serology test. That test can also detect if someone was exposed to COVID-19 in the past without knowing it.

But it would have limitations, including that it cannot pinpoint when a person was infected.

"Even if we detect antibodies, we don't know if they're protective or how long," Theel said.

Theel says it's likely the demand for the serology test will be high, but clinicians do not currently have the capacity to test everyone.

"There's some evidence coming out of China where they used convalescent plasma as treatment, suggesting it works well," Theel said. "So we really do have high hopes that it will be successful here as well."

Theel says there are institutions around the country doing clinical trials of antibody treatment on patients with COVID-19.

The Mayo Clinic is hoping to start in a couple of weeks.

If you're interested in donating blood for research, you can find information on the American Red Cross website.

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