Update June 8th: Vitalant is now conducting free antibody testing for anyone who donates.
California blood banks are urging COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma. Some early research shows it can be used as a treatment for people currently fighting the disease.
Vitalant, which runs blood centers across California, is asking anyone who’s gotten a positive diagnosis for the disease and has been symptom free for at least two weeks to donate plasma. Find more information on donation criteria here.
They’re working with hospitals to get that plasma to current COVID-19 patients, in hopes that the antibodies will boost their ability to fight the virus.
In the medical world, this is referred to as convalescent plasma. It actually emerged in the early 1900’s and was used to combat the 1918 pandemic flu. There is limited research on whether convalescent plasma can help COVID-19 patients.
“We have some precedent based on the treatment of other diseases that this could be helpful,” said Dr. Chris Gresens, senior chief medical officer for the north and west divisions of Vitalant. “We also have some precedent that suggests perhaps it might not be.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved convalescent plasma for COVID-19, but is regulating it as an investigational product. That means it can be used in clinical trials, or for some patients with immediately life-threatening cases.
Gresens said plasma donated by Californians can be sent anywhere in the country.
“The concept here is that while we are looking forward to when a vaccine will be available … this is a stopgap measure.”
Vitalant also says the weekly demand for blood has increased by 25% compared to early April now that hospitals are performing regular surgeries again. Find more information on donation criteria here.
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