As the state takes its first baby steps toward reopening from the Covid-19 shutdowns, officials remind a wary public that our only real weapons for fighting the coronavirus are physical distancing and washing your hands what feels like 70,000 times a day.
Fortunately, a global effort is focused on changing that equation, one that has engaged many of the top epidemiologists, scientists and medical experts from around the world — including a doctor you can now find on NW 1st Avenue in downtown Canby.
Dr. Scott Ferguson is the newest naturopathic physician at the Canby Clinic, joining their ranks after more than 25 years in the medical field, including private practice, education and consulting. He has published several books in the areas of natural medicine and diagnostic interpretation, and given lectures across the globe.
But most recently, he was in the lab for CSL Behring, a biopharmaceutical company with subsidiaries in Oregon (and around the world), as part of a state task force studying antibodies in Covid-19 patients and working to develop a plasma-based treatment for the disease.
“The primary focus is on isolating antibodies from convalescent plasma, from patients that have had exposure,” Dr. Ferguson explained. “That’s where a lot of the energy and focus is right now: trying to develop biological therapies, as opposed to, say, a vaccination that could take a year or more to properly isolate and test.”
Behring specializes in manufacturing plasma-derived and recombinant therapeutic products, and has joined other leading companies in a global effort to develop “CoVIg-19,” a potential plasma-derived therapy for treating those with serious complications from the novel coronavirus.
“I’ve been helping supervise some of the clinical trials on that for the last several months,” Dr. Ferguson said. “They kind of shifted gears to accommodate the current situation. They’ve got that running around the clock now.”
He said he was asked to take part in the task force based on previous experience during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.
His desire to return to primary care and work directly with patients again led him to a career change, and he joined the Canby Clinic full-time on May 1. But he said the work by Behring and the world’s other top labs was showing promise.
“We’re quite pleased with the results,” he said. “The key now is getting more people who have successfully recovered, isolating those antibodies and figuring out what levels are necessary in order to treat patients who have been exposed.”