Blood Bank urgently seeks thousands of ex-corona patients: ‘This can save lives’

At the Sanquin blood bank they hope to collect as much blood plasma as possible from recovered corona patients. This is used to develop a drug that can prevent the virus, either preventively or immediately after infection. The aim is to be ahead of a second wave, which is expected this fall, but it will require thousands of donors.

Michel Nijessen is one of the donors that is in great demand. He has recovered from corona, so there are antibodies in his blood plasma. “I was quite ill myself,” says Nijessen. “My wife too, and that had a significant impact. That is why I give plasma, in the hope that this can be a solution for other people. “

Antibodies

The blood plasma antibodies of ex-corona patients are used to make ampoules with a high concentration that can be administered to vulnerable groups such as people who, for example, are undergoing chemotherapy or receive a kidney transplant. Because this works with other viruses, researchers at Sanquin and the Amsterdam UMC expect that it will also have an effect against the corona virus.

Principal researcher Hans Zaaijer also mainly thinks of the elderly. “Suppose the weather almost goes wrong in a nursing home, an outbreak begins. Perhaps you can be passively protected just in time by all people who have not yet been affected. That means that you administer those antibodies and then they are immune on the spot or they get it in a very mild form. I think it can save lives. ‘

16,000 donors

The Ministry of VWS therefore asked Sanquin to collect a total of 30,000 kilos of blood plasma from ex-corona patients before the fall, when a second wave is expected. Which amounts to 16,000 donors and that can still be difficult.

“We hope that we can recruit an additional 8,000 donors,” says Zaaijer. ‘Because you realize, the people of Amsterdam, the number of infections is already increasing. If we live closer together in the fall, fuller trams, fuller places, fuller schools, it would be great if we had given enough plasma to protect vulnerable people. “

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