‘Patient 16’ recovers from COVID-19 infection during Defense Department study

A military spouse who was hospitalized due to COVID-19 was able to fight off the infection after taking part in a Defense Department study that involved a filter attached to a dialysis machine to rid her blood of the virus.

Retired Col. Matt Hepburn, a physician who worked for years in the defense advanced research projects agency, or DARPA, told “60 Minutes” that the military is working on several moonshot projects to help prevent the next pandemic and assist in the current one. One included a  sensor that would be placed underneath your skin in order to detect chemical reactions that may be occurring due to an infection. The sensor is still being developed but Hepburn likened it to a “check-engine light.”

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He pointed to another example of technology spurred by the agency that involved a military spouse called “Patient 16.” The individual was suffering from COVID-19 and experiencing organ failure. She entered the study that essentially involved a blood filter that removes the virus from the body. Hepburn told the show that the filter “takes the virus out, and puts the blood back in.”

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The report said the patient made a full recovery and the Food and Drug Administration approved its use in emergency situations. The report said the filter has been used in almost 300 critically ill patients.

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The report that included the “Patient 16” story was wide-ranging and discussed ways the military hopes to intervene in future outbreaks.