The tech giant joins a coalition of medical researchers, life science companies, and coronavirus survivors to launch a blood plasma donation drive.
A group of medical and research institutions, blood centers, life science companies, tech companies like Microsoft, philanthropic organizations, and COVID-19 survivor groups have joined forces under “The Fight is in Us” campaign, according to a press release on Tuesday.
Organizations involved in the coalition include the Mayo Clinic, CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, AABB, Anthem, Survivor Corps, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and more.
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The campaign calls upon the tens of thousands of coronavirus survivors in the US to donate their blood plasma, which contains critical antibodies that successfully fought off the disease, according to the release. By donating that plasma, survivors could help others do the same.
Microsoft is helping by providing the tech support for the development of TheFightIsInUs.org, as well as a simple self-screening tool for potential plasma donors.
“Microsoft has provided the technology infrastructure for a health bot that guides people through their eligibility as a plasma donor and directs them to the nearest donor center,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president of artificial intelligence (AI) and research at Microsoft, in the release.
As the death toll for the coronavirus quickly approaches 100,000 in the US, researchers and medical professionals are desperate to find a cure. Vaccines and other effective treatments still appear to be far off in the future, but donating plasma with these antibodies could help in the meantime.
“Inside COVID-19 survivors is the antibody-rich blood plasma that may help stem the tide of this pandemic. The time is now for superhero volunteers to donate their blood plasma and help stop COVID-19 in its tracks,” said Diana Berrent, founder of Survivor Corps, in the release.
This campaign is working against a couple pressing timelines, however, according to the release. The group must recruit COVID-19 survivors within two months of their recovery to guarantee their blood plasma contains a plentiful concentration of antibodies, as well as prepare for the substantial seasonal increase of coronavirus cases expected this fall in the Northern Hemisphere.
How “The Fight in Us” works
Coalition partners are approaching the campaign through a couple of different strategies, both of which require the collection of convalescent plasma as soon as possible, according to the release.
The first approach involves the direct transfusion of blood plasma through the Expanded Access Program for convalescent plasma, which is administered with authorization from the Food and Drug Administration by the Mayo Clinic.
Multiple clinical trials are being conducted to test the safety and efficacy of this tactic, and blood centers throughout the US are currently collecting plasma from COVID-19 survivors for this purpose, as stated in the release.
The second strategy involves the development of a medicine known as a hyperimmune globulin (H-Ig). This is being manufactured and will be evaluated in clinical trials this summer.
Through the manufacturing process, the plasma is pooled, concentrated, and purified to produce a vial of medicine with consistent levels of antibodies that can be easily distributed to patients, according to the release. Campaign members developing the H-Ig include CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance and Grifols.
Individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus, or know someone who has, can visit TheFightIsInUs.org to learn if they might be eligible to donate, as well as find a nearby blood or plasma donor center via the self-screening tool.
The coalition has more than 1,500 locations for COVID-19 survivors to donate, according to the release.
For more, check out New COVID-19 screening and test app to help streamline safe return of workers on TechRepublic.