Duke clinical trial hopeful as it studies plasma from COVID-19 survivors

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Antibody testing that searches for powerful virus-fighting proteins has proven to be valuable, but researchers warn it has its limits.

Duke Health led a Tuesday morning discussion on the topic.

"Just because you have antibodies doesn't actually mean you're immune to the virus because not all antibodies block viral infection," said Dr. Michael Gunn.

Duke Health is hosting a clinical trial. The study looks at plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients and whether the antibodies could help those fighting the disease.

RELATED: Can you test positive for COVID-19 more than once? Duke medical chief weighs in

Jenny Cooke, a Duke MBA student, is participating in the trial after she got sick coming back from Spring Break.

"I thought seasonal allergies were kicking in for me, so it was only until I got tested, I was like "oh, I guess I do have it," Cooke told ABC11.

Her symptoms were rather mild with the most painful part, Cooke said, having been the nasal swab testing. Cooke said she is willing to endure the trial process for the greater good.

"When I got the virus, I was pretty upset about it. I called my mom and was not happy, but if I can help in any way -- that's the silver lining in this," Cooke said.

As promising as the plasma treatment may sound, that approach is alone isn't enough to reopen the economy.

"We have a tool and we need a number of tools in the toolbox," said Dr. Thomas Denny from the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

For the people rushing a reopening, Dr. Gunn had a message.

"What they're really advocating for is that every single person in this country become infected with coronavirus because that's what's going to happen if we throw things wide open," Gunn said. "So, if you like your grandmother, you may not want to do that."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.