The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday put out a call for recovered Covid-19 patients to donate blood plasma which could potentially be used to help ill patients fight the disease.
The idea is that convalescent plasma, the liquid part of blood, from recovered patients contains antibodies that could help strengthen the immune response of other patients still battling infection.
Patients who are fully recovered from Covid-19 for at least two weeks are encouraged to consider donating plasma, the FDA said.
Recovered patients can contact their local blood or plasma collection center to schedule an appointment to donate. The FDA noted in its announcement that it has launched a new webpage with information on blood and plasma collection centers, and the American Red Cross also set up a website for interested donors.
"Prior experience with respiratory viruses and limited data that have emerged from China suggest that convalescent plasma has the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by Covid-19. It is important that we evaluate this potential therapy in the context of clinical trials, through expanded access, as well as facilitate emergency access for individual patients, as appropriate," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in the announcement. "Those individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 could have an immediate impact in helping others who are severely ill. In fact, one donation has the potential to help up to four patients."
Some context: According to the FDA, more than 1,040 sites and 950 physician investigators nationwide have signed on to participate in an effort led by the Mayo Clinic to expand access to plasma.
The FDA also noted in its announcement that several clinical trials are underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma and the FDA has granted several single patient emergency investigational new drug applications as well.