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True claim: New York City hospital asks recovered COVID-19 patients for blood donations to help the sick

Social media users have been sharing content online that claims that recovered COVID-19 patients can donate plasma at the Mount Sinai Hospital to help transfer “antibodies into critically ill patients” currently combatting the virus ( here , here ).

This claim is true. Mount Sinai Anesthesiology’s Facebook page shared an image with the following text:

"Patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19 have high levels of immunity in the form of antibodies in their blood that can be transfused into very sick COVID-19 patients who do not yet have immunity. This treatment is known as “human convalescent plasma” and has been used in previous pandemics. If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, please volunteer to have your blood tested to see if you have high levels of antibodies. You may be qualified to donate plasma at The Mount Sinai Hospital and save a life! To volunteer, please send an email to: COVIDSerumTesting@mountsinai.org #StayHome #SaveLives" ( here )

A spokesperson for Mount Sinai confirmed to Reuters via email that this post was written by their internal communications team.

A microbiologist, Dr Florian Krammer, and his team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai developed and verified a COVID-19 antibody test. Krammer is sharing the information with other hospitals so they can implement similar programs. The test is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.

The test is used to determine if fully recovered COVID-19 patients produced high levels of antibodies in response to the virus. If they did, they could donate plasma with these antibodies to sick COVID-19 patients to mount an immune response. This treatment is called "human convalescent plasma" and has been used in past pandemics, including the 1918 influenza outbreak. (here)

Mount Sinai started this program on March 28, 2020. A spokesperson told Reuters:

“It will be several weeks before we have enough data to provide preliminary assessments of the value of the research/treatment. Mount Sinai is working with the FDA to achieve a higher level of regulatory approval for our antibody assay. Simultaneously, we have made this technology available to other academic research institutions for research/treatment purposes and to commercial laboratories and diagnostic companies through non-exclusive licensing agreements designed to encourage timely and widespread availability of quantitative tests for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in our nation.”

A top emergency expert at the World Health Organization (WHO) said that using convalescent plasma was a “very valid” approach to test, but that it was important to get the timing right to maximize the boost to a patient’s immunity.

VERDICT

True: Mount Sinai Hospital is asking for blood donations for its human convalescence plasma program

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work ( www.reuters.com/fact-check/ )

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