You probably know the names of companies that make COVID-19 vaccines, but a name you may not know is Biological Specialty Company. BSC supplies human blood products to more than 30,000 pharma, biotech, diagnostic and government researchers. Beginning in April 2020, BSC started collecting blood from COVID-19 patients. These samples were instrumental in allowing companies (the ones with the names you know) to rapidly develop effective vaccines.
Of course, blood donations were helping scientists diagnose, treat and prevent diseases long before the COVID-19 pandemic. And BSC has been part of that effort since 1980.
“Blood donors are the unsung heroes of medical research, especially during a pandemic. COVID-19 has brought greater awareness to medical research and the active role that people can play in helping to advance scientific knowledge. BSC specializes in collecting whole blood, white blood cells, bone marrow and other biofluids, which are used by medical researchers worldwide to develop new therapies and diagnostics,” said Jeff Widdoss, Vice President of Donor Center Operations.
Blood samples collected by BSC have a variety of applications for medical researchers. They are used to develop diagnostic tools like COVID-19 rapid tests, determine whether new drugs and vaccines are safe and effective, increase knowledge of how a disease develops and determine which biomarkers serve as warning signs for a disease.
It is rewarding for donors to know that their blood could lead to a breakthrough discovery or help a patient have a better quality of life. Donors are also compensated for their time and efforts. Compensation depends on the type of collection performed and if there are special recruitment requests from researchers. BSC offers several donation programs, including whole blood, leukapheresis (white blood cells) and bone marrow. Routine donors can earn between $300-$3,600 per year.
BSC collected approximately 10,000 blood donations in 2020 through its locations in California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvaniaand Tennessee. A new, larger center is coming to 2999 Regent Street, Berkeley, CA to make donations even more convenient. Eligible donors will need to be 18 or older and be pre-screened prior to a blood collection. Participants are consented and screened according to guidelines from the American Association of Blood Banks, and they undergo a complete battery of FDA-required infectious disease state tests.
In the pre-screening, donors will be asked to provide demographic information, including age, ethnicity, gender, their medications, comorbidities and smoking status as well as details about any applicable illnesses (physician diagnosis, date of onset, etc.). All personal information is kept confidential and will not accompany the donors’ specimens.
If you’d like to help BSC advance scientific research and target a cure, you can contact us by email at [email protected], through our website at biospecialty.com or by phone at 1-833-GO-4-CURE (833-464-2873).
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