Solutions to the Strife
Rutgers health care experts address the coronavirus crisis on multiple fronts.
Fighting COVID-19 From Within
Weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, recovering patients became the source of a potential treatment: their blood plasma contains antibodies that may help fight the coronavirus. On April 10, practitioners at New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and University Hospital in Newark received the first Food and Drug Administration approval in New Jersey for trial blood plasma treatments—and began calling for blood donations from survivors. “The use of convalescent plasma presents real hope for saving lives,” said Marc Klapholz, principal investigator and chair of the Department of Medicine at NJMS. Plasma donors must have had a confirmed positive COVID-19 test and be eligible to donate blood.
When the American Academy of Otolaryngology proposed that a sudden loss of smell or taste be added to the list of COVID-19 symptoms, New Jersey Medical School otolaryngologist Rachel Kaye wasn’t surprised. As a specialist in treating ear, nose, and throat ailments, she had been hearing from colleagues working in two early outbreak hot spots who described patients complaining of a loss of smell and taste who later tested positive for COVID-19. Kaye’s straightforward explanation for how viruses are a common cause of changes to these two senses and her early advocacy for self-quarantining individuals with these complaints were widely reported in the media.
A Rutgers Study of COVID Caregivers
As health care workers were increasingly exposed to COVID-19, Rutgers launched the nation’s largest study of this distinctly imperiled population. The goal? Discover risk factors for acquiring the infection and determine why most acquire mild infections while others become severely ill. Nearly 550 health care providers and 300 non-health care workers from Rutgers, University Hospital in Newark, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick—with and without direct COVID-19 patient exposure—volunteered. The study includes clinical trials that will explore drug treatments, antibody testing, and long-term health tracking.