A biological specimen company is calling out to all those who have COVID-19 or have recovered from the virus to donate blood immediately to help wage a scientific war on beating the virus.
Biological Specialty Company (BSC) typically collects samples of several different diseases and sicknesses for the research community, including those in pharmacology, academia and the government. In normal times, one might go to one of their collection labs, such as in Medford, or at a health center. However, the company is responding to the immediate crisis, and huge request from researchers for COVID-19 samples, by changing its business model to collect blood samples from patients at their homes in a mobile collection unit.
“We need real diverse samples from diverse populations and in diverse stages of fighting the virus,” said Lori Ball, chief operating officer of BSC. “We really need to spread the word as fast as we can because this is a pandemic and we have a pocket of time where this is really valuable information…This is the time right now to collect this and get the information while it’s in process within the body.”
Ball said their company collects samples, and then distributes them to the research community. Right now demand is at a tremendous high for them to get researchers valid and diverse samples so they can learn about the virus and try to develop a way to fight it.
Any samples collected will be used to develop diagnostics, or to learn about what COVID-19 is. They could also be used to study anti-bodies in the blood, which are immune system responses to fighting the disease. Researchers want to learn why some fight off the disease and others have trouble with it. Finally, they will use it to try to develop a vaccine so that no one ever gets COVID-19 again.
The only way to get to those important answers is to get samples of the virus from people who have it, thus the need to gather samples at their homes and to put out a public appeal for volunteers.
“Because of the nature of COVID, we realized that if there were those who wanted to donate, they might have a fever or might be in quarantine and might not be able to get out or don’t feel well enough to get out,” said Ball. “We changed our business model to include a mobile collection program so we could go to the home of COVID-19 patients. Our researchers were having trouble getting access to the research samples. That’s what we do, get them samples, and we felt we needed to be able to go to any zip code where people have been diagnosed.”
Because COVID-19 is a global pandemic, and there are few answers now, donating to research has become very popular because it is a humanitarian gesture to try to beat the virus. However, being able to get those samples at the right time was difficult given how sick people were who had the virus.
“Some people who have been diagnosed with COVID definitely want to participate in research and many of them are first-time donors,” she said. “This is allowing them to connect with the research community right now. We are the conduit.”
Patients who are sick with COVID-19 and quarantined can nowdonate blood from the comfort of their home via a BSC mobile donation unit.
•When patients contact BSC, they will be asked some qualifying questions to confirm their eligibility to participate.
•BSC is seeking blood donors who are over the age of 18 with COVID-19 positive test results confirmed by nasal swab or sera (blood test).
•Patients’ personal information will be kept confidential and only health-related data will accompany their blood sample.
•They will be asked to provide demographic information such as age, race, gender, medications taken, co-morbidities, and smoking status in addition to answering questions about their illness such as symptoms and date of onset.\
•For their time, patients will be compensated $10 for each tube of blood collected.
DONATING BLOOD IN QUARANTINE
After a COVID-19 patient makes a blood donation appointment, a BSC phlebotomist, dressed in full personal protective equipment (PPE), will arrive at their home, explain the informed consent and collection process, and collect the blood sample. Then, they will send the sample to BSC’s lab for processing and distribution.
DONATING BLOOD POST RECOVERY
People who have recovered from COVID-19 and have had no symptoms for at least 28 days, and have had no close contact exposure to a person with confirmed COVID-19 for 28 days, can elect to either donate via the mobile service or make an appointment to visit a BSC blood donor center.
BSC is a critical service supplying more than 30,000 pharma, biotech, diagnostic and government researchers with human blood products for scientific research.
Potential donors can obtain additional information and schedule an appointment by calling 1-833-GO-4-CURE, visiting www.biospecialty.com or sending an email to [email protected]