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This Flu Season Won’t Be Fun

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(Newser)

Know someone with a nasty flu? It’s getting around, and could get a lot worse—even as bad as the 2017-2018 season, CNN reports. “The initial indicators indicate this is not going to be a good season—this is going to be a bad season,” says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. So far, 2,900 people are estimated dead from the flu in America, with 6.4 million ill and 55,000 hospitalized, the CDC said Friday. There have also been 27 pediatric deaths, the highest since the CDC began tracking flu deaths 17 years ago.

It’s particularly bad for kids because they’re susceptible to influenza B, which is strong this season. For more bad news, this year’s vaccine doesn’t fully cover influenza B (just 58% of strains) or influenza A (34% of strains), Healthline reports: “Ideally, this number should be as high as possible, but often with influenza the virus may genetically drift away from an exact match with the virus,” says an infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins University. But the CDC still advises anyone over 6 months to get a flu shot, which Healthline says will lower the severity and length of symptoms. (Read more flu stories.)
 

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What plasma donations could mean for the hardest-hit COVID-19 patients

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The son of a retired New York State investigator hopes the experimental treatment of convalescent plasma will help his father, who has been in the hospital for more than two weeks battling the coronavirus.

Danny Fernandez’s son Zachary Fernandez and ex-wife Yesenia Fernandez put out a plea on Friday asking for coronavirus survivors to donate blood for an antibody test for the coronavirus.

Those who have fully recovered from the coronavirus may be able to help patients fighting the virus by donating the convalescent plasma — the clear, straw-colored liquid part of the blood that contains special proteins — produced in their blood, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In order to be considered as a possible donor, a patient must be fully recovered for two weeks.

“Convalescent plasma can also be used to manufacture a biological product called hyperimmune globulin, which can similarly be used to treat patients with COVID-19,” according to a statement issued by the FDA on Thursday that encourages recovered coronavirus patients to donate plasma.

PHOTO: An employee shows a blood sample for COVID-19 antibody testing at home at the Labor Dr. Heidrich & Kollegen MVZ GmbH medical lab, on April 16, 2020, in Hamburg, Germany. (Morris Macmatzen/Getty Images)
PHOTO: An employee shows a blood sample for COVID-19 antibody testing at home at the Labor Dr. Heidrich & Kollegen MVZ GmbH medical lab, on April 16, 2020, in Hamburg, Germany. (Morris Macmatzen/Getty Images)

Since the coronavirus’ first outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China, in December over 2.2 million people around the world have been diagnosed and over 570,000 have fully recovered. In the United States, over 700,000 people were diagnosed and over 60,000 have recovered, according to the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

MORE: Blood tests could help battle COVID-19 in US

Provisional death count data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control as of April 14 shows that people of color, who make up less than 40% of the United States population, are dying at a higher rate. According to the data, 16.6% of Hispanics and 17.9% of African Americans diagnosed with the coronavirus have died.

The demographic of coronavirus recoveries are not available.

What to know about Coronavirus:

While plasma transfusions are still in the experimental stages to treat coronavirus patients, the Fernandez family are willing to take a chance to help Danny Fernandez.

Danny Fernandez, a retired New York State senior investigator, has been on a ventilator in ICU at an Orange County hospital since April 1.

“So far where it has been used, it is showing some success, so we are hopeful he has some success with it,” Yesenia Fernandez told ABC News’ local affiliate WABC on Friday.

“It was experimental, and we didn’t know of any donors personally, so we are trying to come out and get donors,” said Zachary Fernandez to WABC.

Prior experience with respiratory viruses and limited data from China suggests that convalescent plasma has the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by COVID-19, the FDA said.

Blood donation organizations like New York Blood Center says on their website that they have received several inquiries from concerned people about how to get convalescent plasma donations to their specific loved one.

PHOTO: An employee holds antibody test cartridges of the ichroma COVID-19 Ab testing kit used in diagnosing the coronavirus on a production line of the Boditech Med Inc., in Chuncheon, South Korea, April 17, 2020. (Lee Jin-man/AP)
PHOTO: An employee holds antibody test cartridges of the ichroma COVID-19 Ab testing kit used in diagnosing the coronavirus on a production line of the Boditech Med Inc., in Chuncheon, South Korea, April 17, 2020. (Lee Jin-man/AP)

“At this time, we are building a public bank of CP (convalescent plasma) and there is not an option to make a directed donation (making a donation for a specific patient),” according to the New York Blood Center.

Unlike giving blood where it takes up to 15 minutes to donate, a plasma donation is more of a time commitment.

MORE: Why Thousands of Low-Income Americans ‘Donate’ Their Blood Plasma to For-Profit Centers

After a blood is drawn from the arm, it “takes a spin” in a centrifuge to separate your plasma from other blood components. The plasma is collected in a separate bag and the remainder of your blood is returned to you. This cycle is repeated several times to generate the required volume of plasma,” according to the New York Blood Center.

The Fernandez family hopes someone steps up to donate soon.

WABC’s Tim Fliescher contributed to this report

What plasma donations could mean for the hardest-hit COVID-19 patients originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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