In an effort to further combat the spread of Covid-19, the US Food and Drug Administration is encouraging people who have completely recovered from the virus to donate their plasma to help hospitalized patients who are currently fighting the virus.
People who have had COVID-19 and completely recovered from it now have plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies, the FDA reports. These antibodies can help patients with COVID-19 fight the disease, the FDA says.
“Based on scientific evidence, the FDA concluded that this product may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product in hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” the FDA says.
The use of convalescent plasma, or plasma collected from people who have recovered from the disease, is not new. It has been used on more than 70,000 COVID-19 patients already, which is why the FDA’s request amounts to an expansion of the therapy.
The FDA cited at least a dozen studies as support for its recommendation, adding that “it is reasonable to believe” that convalescent plasma “may be effective in lessening the severity or shortening the length of COVID-19 illness in some hospitalized patients.”
Adding that early treatment is critical, an FDA official said that in patients 80 years or younger, those who received convalescent plasma within three days of diagnosis were about 35 percent more likely to be alive 30 days later than those who did not received the plasma.
Accounting for more than 55 percent of the blood’s physical makeup, plasma is the largest of the four components in a person’s blood, the part that carries all the other blood components throughout the body.
The FDA is urging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate their plasma because plasma is not like a drug that can be manufactured into millions of doses. It can only be obtained through donations from a small collection of people.
In order to donate plasma, former COVID-19 patients must have received their original diagnosis through a laboratory test, be at least 14 days removed from positive infection of the virus and meet all other donor qualifications.
The spread of COVID-19, which has been cited as the cause of more than 175,000 deaths in the US alone, has “caused unprecedented challenges to the US blood supply,” according to the FDA, which says one plasma donation can save as many as three lives.
“You can help ensure that blood continues to be available for patients by finding a blood donor center near you to schedule your donation,” the FDA concludes.
For further information about donating plasma, the FDA encourages potential donors to visit the following websites: