Brazoria County residents are invited to participate in one of two new treatment and prevention studies being conducted in Houston by the UT Health Science Center and Johns Hopkins University.
The studies are open to those who have been positively diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been exposed but are not showing symptoms.
“People that have an exposure to somebody with coronavirus — and it’s exposure in the past few days — and people that don’t have the infection yet, we bring them in, we test them, we prove that they don’t have the infection, and we give them plasma that has high antibody levels against coronavirus, or plasma with no antibodies and look to see the outcome,” said Dr. Shmuel Shoham, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Shoham, who is in the school’s division of infectious diseases, is the principal investigator for one of the two trials and the co-investigator for the second, he said.
In both studies, participants will be given antibodies, and one study will examine whether those antibodies treat the COVID-19 virus while the other will examine whether the antibodies prevent the virus, he said.
The two trials are linked, so participants can be involved only in one or the other, he said.
Both studies are done on an outpatient basis, he said.
Those who have been exposed to the virus within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, but have not tested positive, have about four days from the time of exposure to sign up for the study, giving investigators one day to get their blood type and get them situated as part of the program, Shoham said.
“So five days is sort of the drop-dead deadline for the post exposure prophylaxis (study),” he said.
For those who have already been infected with the virus, the deadline is closer to eight days.
“So a week of symptoms and then we put them into the trial at that point,” he said.
Participants will be compensated, according to a news release.
People over the age of 18 can call 888-506-1199 or fill out the health questionnaire at covidplasmatrial.org to find out whether they qualify.
At the most fundamental level, the studies will look at those outcomes of whether antibodies are effective for treating or preventing the virus, Shoham said. However, whatever additional information they can glean from the study, such as if there’s a specific element in the plasma that is most effective, can be useful toward getting a sense of how to better develop further treatments, he said.
“Of course we’re hoping the treatments that are under development right now are gonna crush it,” Shoham said. “But we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket.”
CASE COUNT TOPS 100
Brazoria County officials reported 103 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, including the county’s youngest death.
“A male in his early 30s from Manvel,” County Judge Matt Sebesta said.
He did not know whether the man had underlying health conditions, he said.
More than half of the county’s new cases, 55 in all, came from samples collected more than two weeks ago, officials said.
“I think we’ve had some laboratories that have been late getting information to the state and then it’s late getting to us,” Sebesta said. “That’s why we wanted to break that out.”
Going forward, he believes the county will continue to indicate every day if any of the new cases come from samples older than two weeks, he said.
Officials also reported 84 recoveries.
Of the new cases reported Tuesday, Pearland led the municipalities with 50 new infections, the highest number, followed by 13 in Alvin. Seven of those in Alvin were reported among Laurel Court residents, while one of the Pearland cases is for a resident at the Colonnades, Sebesta said.
No cases were reported for prison units or the county jail.
Eight new cases were reported in Angleton, seven each were reported for Manvel and for Lake Jackson, and six were reported in Iowa Colony. Clute and Brookside Village each saw three new cases, Sweeny saw two, and Jones Creek, Richwood, Liverpool and Oyster Creek each added one new case to their respective tallies.
The greatest number of new cases was reported among people in their 30s (21), closely followed by people in their 20s (19) and people in their 40s (18). Among adolescents, there were 12 new cases, followed by 10 among people in their 60s. Seven new cases were reported for children younger than 10 years, and six new cases were reported among people in their 70s and people in their 50s. The smallest number of new cases, four, was reported for people in their 80s.
The new infections announced daily are from tests taken at least several days previously. On average, it takes two to four days for labs to return results, but some tests could take longer before the findings are reported to the county.
Altogether, Brazoria County has seen 9,826 cases of COVID-19 since the middle of March. Of those, 2,119 are active while the majority, 7,613 people, have recovered. There are nine cases considered probable, meaning that those people are showing symptoms and are linked to others who have received positive tests. There have been 85 deaths.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.