What's happening at Lifeblood?
The study you’re involved in is just one of the ways we’re learning more about how COVID is affecting Australia.
From Prof Iain Gosbell and Dr Veronica Hoad
While we’ve removed almost all COVID-19 restrictions, the most important thing remains: we need our donors to be healthy and well.
That’s why we’re still asking donors to wait until 7 days after they recover from COVID 19 before they can donate again.
Blood donors like you are providing key knowledge on COVID-19 exposure in the Australian population through Australia’s SARS-CoV-2 serosurveys.
The June 2022 collection (which was before the Omicron BA5 peak), showed that almost half (46%, to be exact) of the population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 through infection. Our September collection results have just been released too — 65% of the population have now been exposed! The fourth round is starting this month.
What do we know about COVID antibody responses?
What does our expert at the Kirby Institute say?
Assoc Prof Stuart Turville, Kirby Institute.
We’re learning how a population’s immunity changes in face of a virus like SARS CoV-2, in collaboration with the Kirby Institute. The teams there have been at the forefront of SARS CoV-2 variant isolation and analysis. While isolating the virus is one thing, testing if a person’s antibodies can bind and block the virus is another.
From the start of the pandemic, hundreds of plasma donors have helped us understand how antibodies can bind to current variants, and what relative threat variants represent the community.
In 2021, this approach was used to highlight the high risk of Omicron spread, even within a highly vaccinated community. Now, the team is looking at many viral variants that have appeared after the recent BA5 wave. The team has, importantly, observed that immune responses have matured to a point that makes it harder for the virus to slip past existing antibodies.
While there is talk of many emerging virus variants in the community, it is likely the result of increased pressure on the virus to change in an environment of high levels of immunity. The prediction is that future infection waves will decrease, but it’s still important that we isolate and study emerging variants in the community. These studies provide early signs of variants we may need to look at carefully and they can lead to changes in national therapeutic and vaccine guideline advice. Fortunately, generous plasma donations give us the power to ask how existing and current immunity can deal with variants as they appear.