Antibody tests and plasma donations create possible treatment options for Coronavirus


AUGUSTA, GA (WJBF)– Antibody test results will help healthcare leaders understand more about who is most at risk for Coronavirus.

The antibody test is different from the test for the virus itself. The test for the virus is a nose or throat swab. The antibody test is a blood analysis to see if patients developed virus-fighting antibodies.

“Antibodies are your body’s ability to fight an infection,” says Dr. Mark Newton Georgia lawmaker, physician and CEO of MedNow Urgent Care.

Dr. Newton says if you think you had the virus, you can now get tested to see if you developed antibodies.

“The particular one we are looking for is IgG (Immunoglobulin G) That’s the good antibody that we think is the most likely to provide relative immunity, or at least a degree of protection,” Dr. Newton explains.

MedNow has tested hundreds of people for the antibodies they continue to test more. The company got its first round results back and 7 out of 105 tested positive for the COVID antibodies.

“These were people who thought they might have had some symptoms, but never really got tested and never had a positive COVID-19 test,” says Dr. Newton.

As they get more results back, the collective data will help them understand more about who is contracting coronavirus.

“When we find out that so many more people might have had it than we thought, we may find out that in certain groups that in a lot of cases it’s a very mild illness and potentially fewer government interventions may be appropriate for a large group of the society while still protecting those medically fragile or vulnerable,” says Dr. Newton.

Dr. Newton encourages people who test positive for the antibodies to donate to BioLife Plasma Services, which is a subsidiary of Takeda. The pharmeceutical company focuses on research and development plasma-derived therapies and vaccines. They have plants across the world, one of which is in Covington, Georgia.

Right now, Takeda is part of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, a group that is studying the effectiveness of treatment options that include using antibodies from one person’s plasma to help others.

According to the website, “The CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance is an unprecedented partnership of the world’s leading plasma companies, spanning plasma collection, development, production, and distribution. Rather than pursue our individual research, we are putting public and patient health first by working together. Our goals are to accelerate the development of a potential treatment, improve our chances of success, and increase supply of the potential treatment.”

Dr. Newton says one of the techniques that makes Takeda special is its ability to separate the antibodies from the blood so that it can be given to patients in concentrated doses regardless of their blood type.

“The IgG against COVID can be separated out and it can be used to treat people, especially the most vulnerable and possibly lower the mortality rate, the ventilator rate and also play a part if there is ever a second wave, of helping us not have to shutdown again,” Dr. Newton says.

Dr. Newton says plasma donors could save jobs and lives in the future.

“To me, a true hero is someone who can help avoid a repeat of what we’re just barely partway through right now–the illness, the mortality and also the shutdown,” Dr. Newton says. I think those people who donate plasma can be true heroes.”

Dr. Newton says for those who qualify, insurance will cover the MedNow antibody test with no copay and no deductible.

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