Annapolis – Maryland welcomed a $3 million offer by the Bloomberg Philanthropies to fund research into the potential therapeutic uses of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, led by Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor who holds joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The state of Maryland contributed an additional $1 million in backing the research.
Commenting on the development, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said optismatically, “We are very fortunate that Maryland has some of the top health research facilities in the world, and I am confident in our state’s ability to be a leader in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine for COVID-19.”
Thanking the stakeholders, Governor Hogan said, “I want to sincerely thank Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins University for working with our state to form this exciting public-private partnership, which will protect the health and well-being of our citizens and has the potential to save thousands of lives.”
In recent weeks, Casadevall has led a team of physicians and scientists from around the United States to establish a network of hospitals and blood banks that can begin collecting, isolating, and processing blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors.
Thanking Governor Hogan, Dr. Casadevall, and Johns Hopkins University “for their leadership and partnership, which will help ensure we can study and explore potential treatments as quickly as possible,” Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City said, “Taking on the greatest public health challenge of our generation requires urgent and innovative collaboration. As scientists work to develop a vaccine, plasma treatment has the potential to save many lives – including the lives of doctors and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.”
Johns Hopkins is coordinating on the research initiative with other medical centers and doctors from nearly two dozen hospitals and research centers, including researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Stanford University Medical Center in California, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Infectious disease physicians and other providers will identify recovered COVID-19 patients as potential donors. After it is confirmed that certain COVID-19 antibodies exist in their blood, plasma will be harvested from these donors at a local Red Cross or the New York Blood Bank, which is collaborating in this effort. The study will also recruit COVID-19 patients and individuals who have not been infected with the virus, as well as healthcare workers or close contacts classified as high-risk exposures – for measurement of improved outcomes or stopping transmission.
“Johns Hopkins is committed to marshaling our clinical and research expertise to stem the tide of this devastating pandemic worldwide,” said President Ronald J. Daniels, adding, “Dr. Casadevall, like so many other Hopkins researchers, is joining with partners across the globe in a race against the clock, and his work embodies to the fullest our university’s mission to serve humanity through discovery. Thanks to the support and leadership of Michael Bloomberg, Governor Hogan and the state of Maryland, we will be able to move forward with Dr. Casadevall’s promising work and bring hope to so many.”