LAFAYETTE, La. - Vitalant is launching a program to treat COVID-19 patients with blood plasma donated by people who have recovered from the disease. Known as "convalescent plasma," this blood component contains antibodies that may give patients an extra boost to fight their illness, according to a press release from Vitalant.
Currently, there are no vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19 because the virus is so new. Although trials for a vaccine are underway, it is expected to be many months before one is approved. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified and approved convalescent plasma treatment as an "emergency investigational new drug," stated in the release. It is currently the only antibody treatment available to COVID-19 patients and, as such, is a promising new tool.
This form of investigational treatment, Vitalant says, may give the body more fight against COVID-19 by using antibodies that are active against the disease. With the help of our local communities, hospital partners and extensive research experience, Vitalant is hoping to help patients fight the coronavirus with the help of willing recovered COVID-19 patients.
"This is an example of the medical and research communities coming together to effect real change during this pandemic," stated Ralph Vassallo, MD, Vitalant's Chief Medical Officer. "Convalescent plasma is a promising response tool for fighting COVID-19 in patients, and potentially for those working on the front lines." Dr. Courtney Hopkins, Senior Chief Medical officer for Vitalant South, said "By donating convalescent plasma, a donor potentially may save the lives of several COVID-19 patients."
Vitalant is seeking convalescent plasma donors to help patients. Eligibility criteria are:
- Prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test
- Complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days
- Meet all other current FDA donor eligibility requirements to donate plasma
Even with these requirements, there may be additional tests or other criteria required. In some instances, those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to donate, even if they did not have an initial laboratory test. Those who meet that criteria and want to donate plasma are encouraged to apply through the Vitalant website Vitalant.org/covidfree. For more information, call 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762).
"As this life-transforming program continues to expand, we're putting out a call to those who have recovered from COVID-19 to help patients in need," said Cliff Numark, Vitalant's chief of marketing. "We encourage those who are eligible to go through the process to make a real difference."
Vitalant will only accept donors who meet all FDA-required donor eligibility criteria and are symptom-free for at least 14 days. Potential donors can only donate if they have applied and have been accepted to the program. Donors cannot walk in for this procedure; they must first fill out the form at Vitalant.org/covidfree to begin the application process. Potential donors will then be contacted by Vitalant.