COVID-19 research continues at Augusta University Health

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Augusta, GA (WJBF)- Researchers continue to make strides in COVID 19 research at Augusta University Medical Center. Believe it or not, the CSRA is only seven months into the pandemic and medical experts say that research takes time.

The focus is on the Regeneron Compound, and if this drug which uses the antibodies of recovered patients, can keep those infected from having complications–and ending up in the hospital.

“We’re just about to start the same study with the same drug for outpatient patients that are not admitted to the hospital that have mild disease to see if we can prevent some admissions. Seeing if we can send these patients home and not come back,” said Dr. Jose Vazquez, Chief of Infectious Diseases at AUMC.

Dr. Vazquez said they have been studying the compound on some of the sickest patients, but this study is the only one of its kind.

“So we’re pretty excited about that one. It’s the only study that’s being done at the outpatient setting,” said Dr. Vazquez.

I asked Dr. Vazquez about a study done in Europe that says people with certain blood types are less susceptible to the virus. He said people with those blood types shouldn’t get too excited. He was skeptical of the results.

“According to the one study, the Danish study, it appears as though those individuals that have O type, apparently, have low rates of infection. But it’s a really loose interpretation. Really loose.”

Melinda Woodell from Shepeard Blood Center agrees. They keep track of the blood types that come in to donate plasma.

She says one third of those who donate are type A and one third are type O. Eight percent make up AB and B blood types. She says they aren’t seeing a huge difference in positive cases as it relates to blood type.

“And so we’re seeing the same thing that we’re seeing with the A’s and the O’s. About five percent are testing positive. So I can’t correlate to say that they’re immune. I think it’s just the luck of the draw of their blood types really,” explained Woodell.

AUMC is also studying is the risk of reinfection in those who previously tested positive for COVID. I wanted to know if people who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms had a higher risk of getting it again.

“But we do know that if you don’t have these high…what we call neutralizing antibodies, right, that take care of the virus, you’re probably at risk for reinfection,” Dr. Vazquez said.

Dr. Vazquez also said it is important that people understand that not everyone who tests positive for COVID will have antibodies but that reinfection is currently extremely rare.

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