“It’s been very exciting to see so many COVID-19 survivors step up to donate their antibody-rich blood to save other lives.” — Shmuel Shoham, M.D.
Shmuel Shoham, M.D., has spent most of his nine years at Johns Hopkins diagnosing and caring for patients with infectious diseases, such as pneumonia. But when COVID-19 cases began to soar — with no cure in sight — the associate professor of medicine in the transplant and oncology infectious diseases program felt compelled to act. Building on previous research to treat influenza using antibodies from survivors’ blood, Shoham helped form a consortium of experts to launch clinical trials investigating COVID-19 survivor blood as a treatment.
“Suddenly I was putting in 18-hour days,” he says. Results from these initial studies proved promising, but there weren’t enough blood donors for those who needed it. Knowing that New York’s Orthodox Jewish community was hard hit with COVID-19, Shoham called a friend there for help. Within five weeks, enough plasma was collected to treat more than 7,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients throughout the country.
Shoham and his colleagues are part of the 57-institution National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project to oversee, research and publicize this treatment. “It’s been very exciting to see so many COVID-19 survivors step up to donate their antibody-rich blood to save other lives,” says Shoham.