SHREVEPORT, LA. - There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the antibody for COVID-19. For instance, how soon after recovering from the virus, does a person develop the antibody? Many recovering patients are encouraged to donate blood at LifeShare for convalescent blood plasma therapy trials.

LSU Health Sheveport's Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) lab tests the blood to see if the antibodies respond to the novel coronavirus.

KTBS 3's Brenda Teele spoke with LSU Health Shreveport Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Matthew Woolard, PhD, about how the plasma is matched for patients in clinical trials. "We will confirm that they can detect the novel coronavirus, and then we will determine the amount. And we provide that information back to LifeShare Blood Center so that LifeShare can then make decisions about which plasma they will send out when requested by hospitals," Woolard said.

Doctors recommend waiting at least 14 days before a recovered COVID-19 patient donate blood plasma.

Some patients develop the antibody sooner than others.  "Respiratory infections that the novel coronavirus causes, takes longer to generate antibodies in the blood than an infection that starts in the gut," Woolard said.

Woolard also said the novel coronavirus doesn't mutate as quickly as the virus that causes the flu. But, it’s more contagious and deadly. Still a slower mutation could allow for the development of a reliable vaccine.

The novel coronavirus antibody is different than the Spanish flu that lives for several years. In this case, the antibody is present for about a year. But, Woolard said some cells have memory and are able to help a person recover beyond that time, "So, even a year later when you get infected again, those cells respond. And so even though we may not have circulating antibodies a year from now, if we've had infection with the novel coronavirus, we'll likely still have memory immune responses to protect us," said Woolard.

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