100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Plasma may help COVID-19 patients, Austin doctors say as they join national study—it definitely boosts morale
Welcome to Austonia, a new, locally owned news company reporting on news, business, and politics in Austin. Like what you see? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our latest stories in your inbox.
Dr. MaryAnn Tran, an infectious disease specialist and regional section chief for Baylor Scott & White, just enrolled some of her COVID-19 patients in a treatment study.
With her approval, they will receive convalescent plasma therapy—or plasma infusions from donors who have recovered from COVID-19—as part of a national study overseen by the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"Hopefully we'll get some more promising data and so we'll get better at knowing who the patients are who could benefit the most from it," Dr. Tran said.
Convalescent plasma therapy uses donations from recovered patients—or those who have convalesced—in the hopes that their antibodies aid those in need of treatment. Since We Are Blood began collecting convalescent plasma donations in mid-March, 91 COVID-19 patients have received treatment.
The wait time for infusions has dropped to less than 24 hours as the local nonprofit has shifted to operating at a surplus. Initially, the organization only accepted plasma from eligible donors who had tested positive for COVID-19, but now it is allowing people who have received positive antibody test results to donate, too. One donation can be used to treat multiple patients.
"For me, I didn't start enrolling patients until I heard from We Are Blood that there was ample supply," Dr. Tran said.
The expanded use of convalescent plasma therapy has improved morale for physicians and patients alike.
"It gives us a potential weapon to offer to patients where we otherwise don't have a lot of good options, outside of excellent support and care they're going to get in the hospital," Dr. Jeff Yorio, a hematologist-oncologist at Ascension Seton and Texas Oncology's Austin Central location. "It kind of gives us a chance to feel like we're actively doing something."
Convalescent plasma therapy has been used for more than a century to treat diseases such as the Spanish flu, diphtheria and Ebola, with varying levels of success. Despite this precedent, questions remain.
"There have been some patients where I have felt that their response was more rapid than I might otherwise expect, and I wonder if that's due to the convalescent plasma," said Dr. Matthew Robinson, an infectious disease physician at St. David's South Austin Medical Center. "But we have no way of knowing for sure."
While scientists know that patients exposed to the coronavirus develop antibodies, it is still unclear what level of immunity those antibodies confer—or how long they may last.
As the national study continues, Dr. Robinson said he is excited to learn more about potential uses of convalescent plasma therapy, such as to treat patients with symptoms of COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization in an effort to prevent the disease from progressing, or as a prophylactic for health care workers to help them avoid contracting the disease altogether.
Convalescent plasma therapy also provides a chance for those who have recovered from COVID-19 to help others.
Dr. Tran, Dr. Yorio and Dr. Robinson each said their patients are not only interested in receiving the treatment—but also in becoming donors themselves when it is safe for them to do so.
"People can contribute and feel like, 'I'm doing my part,'" Dr. Robinson said. "It's just another aspect of this—patients helping patients."
- Questions about COVID antibody protection put herd immunity ... ›
- Plasma from Austin COVID-19 survivors may be used to treat ICU ... ›
- Antibody tests show up in Austin, but not all are FDA approved ... ›
- We Are Blood requests funding for convalescent plasma program - austonia ›
- Two different COVID-19 treatments are coming to Texas, soon - austonia ›
- Austin opens COVID monoclonal antibodies infusion center - austonia ›
- Austin monoclonal antibodies treatment center expands - austonia ›
Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
- Bad vibes: Austin fears for fate of ACL—official word: 'too early to tell ... ›
- ACL brings a piece of normalcy back with iconic flags pitched in ... ›
- Some Austinites want ACL Festival out of Zilker Park - austonia ›
- Austin is back! ACL says in-person 2021 Zilker live music festival ›
- ACL 2021 lineup features Miley Cyrus, Black Pumas and more ... ›
A goal-desperate Austin FC to likely play without its 3 new strikers in Wednesday rivalry match vs. Houston Dynamo
Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff has run out of ways to say it: the team needs to score goals.
Austin is now scoreless for four of five of its home matches and has been shut out for nine of its last 11 games. Instead of trending upward after their grueling seven-match road stretch, the team has tanked to the bottom of the West as they head to a home match against Houston Dynamo at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
For everything, you need to know about attending the game, click here.
What to expect
They say all good things come in threes, and for Austin those come in the names of Sebastian Driussi, Moussa Djitte and McKinze Gaines. Driussi, who is Austin FC's most expensive signee yet and could solve Austin's scoring woes, can stop quarantining Tuesday. He likely won't play Wednesday since he will have had only one minute of training but will probably debut in a road match against FC Dallas on Saturday. Meanwhile, Djitte is still missing and hasn't made it to the U.S. at the confusion of Austin FC fans and staff and there's no news of Gaines playing on Wednesday after signing on Saturday.
Austin's injured roster is finally drying up: right back Nick Lima subbed in for a few minutes for the first time in weeks on Saturday against Colorado, and just four others are still off the pitch. Dani Pereira is still out, however, and he's proven to be the secret ingredient for many of Austin's best matches in the past.
Houston was Austin FC's first-ever MLS opponent as they beat the club 3-2 for a preseason La Copita match. Since then, the club has stayed out of the limelight and is ninth in the Western Conference off of a nine-match winless streak. Like Austin, the Dynamo are skimpy on scoring, but their solid defense has led them to three straight draws.
On Saturday, Houston made a big move by signing LAFC winger Corey Baird. Baird scored against Austin in the teams' first matchup on April 17 and has scored two more goals since, but it's unclear whether the experienced winger will be wearing orange come Wednesday.
Though unlikely, it could be a signee vs. signee situation as Austin and Houston head into their first official Texas Derby match.
Projected starting lineup
Sans Driussi, Austin will still be hard-pressed to find their perfect fit as striker up top. A young Manny Perez took the starting spot for the first time on Saturday and could crown the offense again. Meanwhile, Rodney Redes is as likely as any other to take the winger position as he looks to finally nab that first official goal with the team. Jon Gallagher, who scored Austin's first home goal, and winger Jared Stroud are also options to play on the right flank.
Nick Lima saw limited playing time on Saturday, and he could be back to take his starting spot this week—this time sporting a mohawk. His replacement, 32-year-old Hector Jimenez, has still been playing well and could hold onto the spot for longer.
Cecilio Dominguez could permanently be back in his left winger position, or he could sit up top and adopt his most comfortable "false-9" status as the club waits for Driussi to take the striker spot.
Meanwhile, Brad Stuver continues to save the team from catastrophe in the keeper position. Stuver once again pulled off two nail-biting saves in the 1-0 loss to Colorado on Saturday and is quickly gaining acclaim as a potential MLS All-Star roster member.
- Sebastian Driussi and Moussa Djitte bring new hope to Austin FC ... ›
- First half lead not enough for an Austin FC victory in first MLS ... ›
- Austin FC loses in PKs to FC Dallas in first away scrimmage - austonia ›
- Wolff, Austin FC prep for new practice field to host La Copita match ... ›
- Austin FC ends La Copita with 5-1 win over San Antonio FC - austonia ›
- Where to watch La Copita as an Austin FC fan - austonia ›
- Austin FC, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo to make a Texas rivalry ... ›