Mayo Clinic researching why COVID-19 impacts some patients worse than others

One of the mysteries of COVID-19 is why it strikes some patients harder than others. At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, researchers are already creating databases to capture the progress of the disease in individual patients.

The chair of the COVID Task Force at Mayo, Doctor Andrew Badley says there is long-term research, too.

“We have created a bio-bank to capture samples from patients who are infected so we can go back and study them in the future, learning if there is a certain susceptibility or a certain genetic feature that makes you resist this disease,” said Dr. Badley.

Mayo is already working with the FDA on the use of convalescent blood plasma from patients who’ve recovered from the virus. The therapy is already showing encouraging results on several patients at a hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

“And Dr. Hartman sent me a text yesterday saying that they had pretty good results with the first two including a marked reduction in oxygen requirements in a patient in ICU and a reduction in that patient’s fever,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a Mayo professor of anesthesiology.

Mayo is also building a bio-bank that’s collecting samples from infected patients to study the genetic makeup that makes some patients more susceptible to the virus than others.

But the ultimate goal is producing a vaccine.

“There are a number of Mayo researchers who are developing their own vaccine,” said Dr. Badley. “Those vaccines are not ready for use in patients. Mayo has been in conversations with a number of companies who have vaccines and we will see and continue to discuss whether Mayo will be involved in those clinical trials. One company has already had a vaccine in humans. The company is called Moderna and they are now talking about scaling those trials and Mayo may or may not be one of the sites for those trials.”

Moderna, which is in Boston has already begun a human trial.  Dr. Badley says Mayo is talking with Moderna about whether to become one of the trial sites.