ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 9) - Much of the discussion around COVID-19 is possible treatments, including one that is showing promise called convalescent blood plasma.
The FDA is working with hospitals and clinics to test the process. One of them is the Mayo Clinic.
The treatment is not as simple as donating plasma and transfusing it into someone and hoping they recover, however. There has to be testing first to show that it works and they need to collect the plasma.
The concept is to harvest plasma from people who have already recovered from COVID-19. The plasma contains antibodies to fight off the virus and Mayo Dr. Michael Joyner says it has worked with past outbreaks.
“So, we believe it is our best biological shot on goal in the short run before more concentrated antibodies are available and until there is a vaccine,” said Joyner.
First, they need blood plasma donors and patients need to meet a couple of qualifications.
They have to have a swab positive test to show they have the disease, they need to have recovered from it and be 14 days post-recovery, meaning they are asymptomatic for 14 days.
Then, they have to have a second test or they have to wait an additional two weeks or 28 days before they can donate.
Even then, not every COVID-19 patient would be a candidate for the plasma treatment.
“Historical evidence suggests the sweet spot is people who are in the hospital and sort of headed toward the ICU and intervene then relatively early in the disease. We think we can make the biggest difference, or if we can intervene, early in the ICU process,” said Joyner.
In the short term, Joyner’s goal is to get as many people in the program as possible.
He said it is important that doctors help correct this first wave of COVID-19 because a secondary wave is coming and it’s crucial the healthcare system is in good position for it.
The bottom line: Doctors need plasma donors in order for this to work.
The Red Cross accepts blood plasma donations at redcrossblood.org and the American Association of Blood Banks accepts them at covidplasma.org.
Both sites will take you through the qualifications and where you can make an appointment to donate.