Medical researchers have been searching for a treatment, cure, and or vaccine in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, antibodies found in the plasma of the blood of virus survivors have been the subject of several major studies. These antibodies may hold the key to some type of COVID-19 treatment.
Hudson Regional Hospital (HRH) in Secaucus announced that the it has begun testing asymptomatic residents for COVID-19 as well as virus survivors for viable antibodies.
HRH’s laboratory is now equipped to perform up to 400 IGG or IgM antibody tests per day. IgM antibodies develop early in an infection, and IGG antibodies are more likely to develop after recovery from the virus.
The hospital is sharing testing results with the state and CDC for analysis to determine how long asymptomatic patients are immune to the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, President and CEO of HRH, explained how testing is being done to better understand the virus as the pandemic continues.
“Our asymptomatic immunity testing results, along with the vast amount of data we’ve collected at our testing site and through treating patients, are critical to the healthcare and science community’s understanding of the disease,” Kifaieh said. “It’s still early though. In order to stay ahead of COVID-19 before the next wave, we will need to retest our previously positive patients and follow up on those who had positive IgG results to determine how long immunity lasts.”
Antibody testing and plasma therapy
HRH’s laboratory is now accepting walk-ins with and without a physician’s prescription for antibody testing. The test involves a phlebotomist drawing blood from the patient. Antibodies effective at fighting the virus may be found in the plasma of the blood of COVID-19 survivors.
HRH reiterated world health officials’ warning that the antibody test does not guarantee immunity. However, some physicians report that a positive antibody test indicates that a patient may have some level of protection against reinfection.
“Those who get tested can give the medical community a better understanding of how many people were truly affected and can provide a broader picture of who remains vulnerable,” Kifaieh said. “The test is one of many factors being analyzed by our elected officials to determine a safe time frame to begin resumption of business.”
Antibody testing is key to a new type of treatment being tested to potentially treat COVID-19. HRH just began providing plasma treatments as part of The Mayo Clinic’s trial study, according to Kifaieh.
The treatment involves the trial distribution of the collected survivor blood plasma containing antibodies that can overcome the virus. HRH is one of many hospitals that has begun the implementation of trial plasma therapy in hopes of discovering a treatment, cure and or vaccine for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Kifaieh underscored that HRH continues to treat regular patients successfully, albeit with some new restrictions designed for maximum patient safety.
Safety protocols in place
The hospital is following strict safety protocols to treat patients in need of non-COVID-19 medical attention.
According to HRH, this includes keeping its other practice areas completely separated from the COVID-19 unit, ensuring no staff crossover. The hospital also keeps independent emergency rooms for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
The facility is returning to normal operations, preparing for the resumption of other practices. However the hospital is still prepared for any new virus patients because the COVID-19 treatment area is still quarantined, and staff are tested daily.
And while HRH is ready for a second wave of the number of individuals needing COVID-19 testing, patients admitted, patients needing intubation, and patient deaths from the virus have all significantly decreased.
According to Kifaieh, U.S. officials and corporations across the United States are pouring money into antibody testing in hopes it will give people confidence to return to work and reopen parts of the economy.
HRH is the designated COVID-19 testing site for Hudson County. The hospital has been collaborating with the county and Secaucus leadership to secure needed equipment and proper protective equipment for its staff and patients throughout the pandemic.
Patients currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are advised to go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.