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By joycemusonda • 2 weeks ago • 1075 views • 338 comments

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Blood donors will help researchers figure out how long novel coronavirus antibodies last

 The American Red Cross is testing all donated blood for novel coronavirus antibodies and will use that information to learn more about the spread of COVID-19. They’ll also check back in with donors to find out how long their antibodies last.




If someone has antibodies to the novel coronavirus, it’s a sign that they were, at one point, infected with the virus. While the tests on the market now aren’t perfect, many people are still interested in getting them — including people who thought they had COVID-19, but weren’t able to get tested when they were sick.

One goal of the antibody testing initiative is to encourage more people to donate blood, says Susan Stramer, vice president of scientific affairs at the Red Cross. Stay-at-home orders meant fewer people than usual donated blood over the past few months, and supplies have been running low. The organization has seen about an 150 percent increase in the number of donation appointments since the antibody testing started on June 15th.

When someone donates blood to the Red Cross, they consent to allow their blood samples to be used in research studies. Thousands of people all over the country donate blood each month, which gives the organization a huge pool of blood samples to analyze. By testing all of those samples for novel coronavirus antibodies, the organization will also be able to get a sense of how widespread the virus is.

“We collect 40% of the nation’s blood supply, so we have an easy picture to answer questions around how many people are antibody positive,” Stramer says. So far, with two weeks of data, around 1.2 percent of blood donors have novel coronavirus antibodies.

The Red Cross will reach out to donors who have antibodies and ask them if they’re interested in participating in an additional follow-up study to test how their antibody levels may change over time. These antibodies probably help protect people against getting sick from the virus again, but a lot more research still needs to be done. Researchers still don’t have a good sense of how long antibodies against this virus actually stick around in the body. Some preliminary data suggests novel coronavirus antibodies might only linger for a few months, especially in people who didn’t have symptoms when they were infected.

The study will check in once a month to retest participants’ antibody levels. “We hope to enroll as many people as possible, but I think if we get over 30 percent, we would consider that a success,” Stramer says.

The Red Cross is also participating in a nationwide antibody study, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That study will include multiple blood donation organizations and will check the percentage of the population with novel coronavirus antibodies this fall and again in 2021. “It’s certainly the largest serosurvey I’ve ever been involved with,” Michael Busch, who’s helping lead the efforts as director of the Vitalant Research Institute, told Science. Each of those surveys will include 50,000 blood samples.

The projects are similar but different in scope. “Ours is really a deep dive into the details of our donors and the antibody duration, whereas the CDC program will look at changes over time,” Stramer says.

Blood donation centers have taken advantage of the thousands of samples at their disposal for scientific research for decades. Studies started through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute began studying donated blood in 1989 over concerns about the impact of HIV on blood transfusion safety. Since then, donated blood has helped scientists understand more about diseases like Zika and West Nile virus.

Donated blood won’t give us a perfect snapshot of a population. Some groups are also excluded from donating blood entirely. Men who’ve had s3x with another man in the past three months are ineligible, which effectively excludes non-abstinent gay men from donation. The Red Cross is also advertising their antibody tests, so people who were sick might be more likely to volunteer as blood donors — which could skew the data they’re collecting and make it more heavily weighted toward people who have antibodies. The organization is surveying donors to ask why they decided to donate, though, so they’ll have that information to accompany the study.

People also have to be entirely healthy in order to donate blood, and because COVID-19 can linger, there could be a time lag between when people are sick and when they’d be counted in these types of studies.

It’s still valuable to understand how many people who are currently healthy have novel coronavirus antibodies, Stramer says. “It really represents those individuals who may not know they were infected, or who were infected and are now symptom-free.”

Reported by: Nicole Wetsman

338 Replies | Last update 2 weeks ago | Last comment

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    2 weeks ago

    Following

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    2 weeks ago

    I'm glad I'm a donor.thanks for sharing 

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    2 weeks ago

    Great news 

     

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    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for the update

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    2 weeks ago

    Following 

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    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the update 

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    2 weeks ago

    It's time the researchers got busy 

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    2 weeks ago

    What an interesting and well articulated and  balanced article,thank you for sharing this piece of information

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    2 weeks ago

    Really.

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Alright noted interesting and thanks for the information 👍

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    2 weeks ago

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    Following 

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    Thanks for sharing

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    Following the article

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    Okey

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    This is a great research

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    2 weeks ago

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    2 weeks ago

    Mmmmm are we safe

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    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing this research. Have learned

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the update

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    2 weeks ago

    This is great news, hope thses antibodies will help the elderly and the most vulnerable recover

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for the information 

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    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing information I think this research study will go along way in the fight against Covid-19

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Following.

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    2 weeks ago

    This was something very nice and special on there part. Wow thank you so much for the information

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    2 weeks ago

    Mmmmmm

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    2 weeks ago

    its very bad. thanks for sharing this article .its very educative

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    Really

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    Thanks for the implementation 

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    2 weeks ago

    Well this good, am glad I have known something I didn't know

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    Following 

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    2 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to share this with everyone on this platform.

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Very insightful.. The fight against this pandemic continues and its for all of us.

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing

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    Following

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    Thanks for the information. 

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    Nice article

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    Following closely

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    Following

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    2 weeks ago

    thanks for the update

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    2 weeks ago

    This is a great initiative, and can help with finding a cure quickly for the virus.

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    2 weeks ago

    following

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Noted

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    2 weeks ago

    Donate and save

     

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    2 weeks ago

    Closely  following

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    Okay

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    Thanks for the update

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    2 weeks ago

    Brilliant article, this is good. thanks for sharing, keep us updated with more.

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    2 weeks ago

    This is very informative news. please keep posting such informative news for people to read

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    mmmmm

  • »
     
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    2 weeks ago

    Great research. Thanks for the information 

  • »
     
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    Following 

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    2 weeks ago

    Very informative article 

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Following 

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Wow, this is really nice, more people should hear about this, thank you for sharing.

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    This is great news, hope thses antibodies will help the elderly and the most vulnerable recover 

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    The blood donation through red Cross should ensure that all goes well before any procedure

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    following story

  • »
     
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    Thanks for sharing 

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    Noted 

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    thank you for sharing.

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    Following

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    2 weeks ago

    Health is dynamic let's wait and see

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    This is very informative news. please keep posting such informative news for people to read

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for the update

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    okay

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    following

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    OF YOU NEED MORE DONORS DO NOT hesitate AM READILY AVAILABLE

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Following

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    2 weeks ago

    Wish we could donate but we don't have enough blood

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing this great information because at least it has really helped me get updated of what is happening around the ground.

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this with me and I'm looking forward to be updated more on day to day updates.

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    2 weeks ago

    t’s still valuable to understand how many people who are currently healthy have novel coronavirus antibodies, Stramer says. “It really represents those individuals who may not know they were infected, or who were infected and are now symptom-free.

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Following 

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Following

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    Thanks for sharing 

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    Thank you for the update

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    2 weeks ago

    Sometimes vlood donation is very bad. Following closely the whole information

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    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing 

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    Thanks for sharing this information 

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    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for this important information and for sharing this article. Please continue updating us.

    PRIMES is the best

  • »
     

    Following

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    Helpful information

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    2 weeks ago

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    Thanks for the information it's very interesting and important hopefully hopefully the process becomes effective 

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Wow 

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    2 weeks ago

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    following

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    Interesting now

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    I doubt if they will reach to the conclusion soon because of underlying factors which are involved 

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    What an interesting and well articulated and  balanced article,thank you for sharing this piece of information

  • »
     
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing

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