October 30, 2020

Culina Group employee contributes to Covid-19 vaccine development

Detail of coronavirus test sample

In early March Culina Group employee Andy Brown was one of the few people in the UK to be diagnosed with Covid-19. Following his admittance to hospital and full recovery, he was asked to originally donate blood for research and vaccine development but has subsequently been asked to donate convalescent plasma for research into antibodies in the hope it can eventually be used to treat new patients with Covid-19.

“A doctor from The NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) contacted me as a survivor,” explains Andy, who works at Culina Group as Head of Organisational Design. “The doctor explained that people like me who have fully recovered from Covid-19 potentially have antibodies in their blood which can fight the virus. This could help patients currently ill with the virus.

“Originally, they asked me to donate blood, at the NHS Blood and Transplant Service in Leicester. It was all very new to them as I was the first Covid-19 patient they had. Doctors then contacted me again just over a week later and asked if I would like to voluntarily donate convalescent plasma. I would be the first patient to do this at the Birmingham NHSBT facility according to the Blood Trust.

“For me it is such a privilege to donate plasma which will be used to support others. I am just thankful that I am able to give something back to the NHS as a thank you for the care and support I received during my own unpleasant experience with what is now a global pandemic.”

Andy Brown, Culina Group

The NHS Blood and Transplant Service is waiting on approval for the trial of the therapy, if fully approved, the trials will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a Covid-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival.

According to the NHS antibodies rise steadily in the blood stream when someone is ill and are thought to peak between 21 and 28 days after recovery. Donors for this procedure must have tested positive for the illness either at home or in hospital but should now be three to four weeks into their recovery, ideally 29 days. That said not everyone is eligible to donate.

Richard Berry, Culina Group HR Director, added: “This is a fantastic and positive story at a time when they are much needed. All of us at Culina Group are happy that Andy is well and we are very proud that he is contributing to the valuable research being carried out by the NHS Blood and Transplant Service. Andy is looking to go back in two weeks to donate again.

“As a business we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our key workers are fully protected during this crisis. Culina Group provides logistics services to food and drink manufacturers and we are a crucial part of the supply chain when getting products on to the retailer’s shelves at this difficult time.”

The NHS Blood and Transplant Service contacted Andy directly to thank him for becoming a blood donor and donating convalescent plasma to help with the fight against Covid-19.