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New Brunswick man reflects one year after a COVID-19 diagnosis for his entire family

A Saint John man believes he and his family are lucky more than a year after they all tested positive for COVID-19.

Percy Wilbur, his wife and their two daughters had vacationed in Florida in March 2020 and spent time on a cruise. He said as the pandemic started to take hold, it was difficult to get a flight back to Canada.

When they did return, they all began to develop symptoms. Tests confirmed all four had contracted COVID-19.

Wilbur said they recovered pretty quickly.

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“One hundred percent,” Wilbur said when asked about the health of his family. “We’re back to the way we were before COVID. I guess I had some lingering headaches that went on for a few months. I don’t know if it was COVID-related or perhaps the stress from (work), but no, everything turned out fine.”

Wilbur is a well-known developer in Saint John.

He said the pandemic has, at times, created challenges in staffing workers and his sites and securing building materials.

He said it’s been difficult to watch the situation evolve in New Brunswick and elsewhere after his own experience with the virus.

“It’s been quite tragic because you see the hardships that people are going through and how it’s affecting the economy and people’s jobs,” he said.

Shortly after his recovery, Wilbur became the first Atlantic Canadian to donate convalescent plasma to Canadian Blood Services. The plasma was to be used in national clinical trials to determine if it could be an effective treatment for people infected with COVID-19.

Canadian Blood Services chief scientist Dana Devine said three clinical trials were launched last year.

She said CONCOR-1 (adults) and CONCOR-Kids (children) were trials where patients were treated with convalescent plasma within the first 24 hours after being admitted to hospital.

The third trial, REMAP-CAP, focused on severely ill patients in hospital intensive care units.

Devine said the youth trial was stopped because there were not enough patients to get it going.

“What we’ve learned through these trials — at least the two adult trials — is that we need to be probably giving this much earlier than we had been giving it in the two trials,” Devine said. “So both of those trials were stopped because at the midpoint analysis of the patients enrolled, they recognized they were never going to achieve the stated outcome of the trial. So they were stopped early.”

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Devine said other trials are likely in the future.

Wilbur said he’s focused on meeting a fall target for opening a new 83-unit apartment building on the former site of the Gothic Arches at the intersection of Wentworth Street and Princess Street.

He has purchased the former Woolworth store on King Street along with an adjacent building in uptown Saint John with eyes on residential and commercial development.

He said also got his first COVID-19 vaccination about three weeks ago.

“The jury is still out on whether or not people that have had COVID should get it,” Wilbur said of the vaccination. “I’m amply healthy. And I think that I was testing the market as well.”

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