The best defense against coronavirus could soon be Marcus Smart antibodies.
Smart will donate blood plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project to assist research on a possible treatment for the virus that ravaged China, spread to other countries and shut down most of the world this month. Shams Charania first reported Smart’s donation.
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart plans to donate his blood plasma to National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project for research on the blood of those recovered from coronavirus, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 1, 2020
The FDA approved use of plasma, the fluid that houses blood cells, as an emergency treatment for suffering coronavirus patients on Mar. 24.
It is possible that convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might be effective against the infection. Use of convalescent plasma has been studied in outbreaks of other respiratory infections, including the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, 2003 SARS-CoV-1 epidemic, and the 2012 MERS-CoV epidemic.
Smart’s plasma will likely go to New York, where The Atlantic reported thousands of donors are providing Mount Sinai Hospital the blood necessary to infuse its first patient this work. While there is no assurance that it will work like it has with other diseases, the FDA said, there’s hope that possible immunity that people like Smart built by fighting off the virus could help others who have not.
“A single plasma donation from a COVID-19 survivor could go to multiple patients,” Sarah Zhang wrote in The Atlantic. “Donating plasma is similar to donating whole blood, except the red blood cells are separated out by a machine and returned to the donor. ‘We can do two to three people from one donor,” says Bruce Sachais, the chief medical officer at the New York Blood Center.’”
The best part is that donors can provide large amounts of antibodies and quickly recover them within days, with the New York Times reporting there is no risk in donating. It’s a process that takes just over one hour. Donors need to meet certain requirements, like an allotted amount of time since coronavirus left their system.
Smart announced he tested positive for coronavirus Mar. 19 and was cleared yesterday. Interestingly enough, conjunctivitis has been reported as an early symptom in a small percentage of those infected. Smart missed seven games with one of the worst cases his doctors had ever seen in December. While the timing seems off and it could be entirely unrelated, there’s still much we don’t know about COVID-19.
Along with Smart, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were among numerous NBA players to contract the virus. James Dolan, Doris Burke and other unnamed members of the Nuggets, Lakers and Nets all picked up the highly contagious disease that shut the NBA down two weeks ago indefinitely after Gobert’s positive test. All team facilities are now closed.
Research is expected to follow in New England, Delaware and the midwest where other blood centers are present. China showed some promise through their research of the treatment, so Smart could be on his way to saving the world.