Convalescent plasma containing COVID-19 antibodies to treat ill patients is in short supply across the country. Blood donation centers are struggling to meet the demand of the local hospitals.
HOUSTON, TX, January 04, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Around the country and especially in Texas, positive COVID-19 cases continue to break records seemingly every day. As the transmission rates rise, so do hospitalizations and deaths related to complications caused by the virus. In states with especially high infection and hospitalization rates, blood donation centers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for plasma containing effective antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to treat ill patients.
Texas blood centers are becoming overwhelmed by convalescent plasma orders from local hospitals as the state currently has the 2nd highest COVID-19 infection rate in the US. A spokesperson for LifeShare Blood Center in Beaumont stated, “For convalescent plasma, we have very, very little. The hospitals are ordering a lot of it daily. We are unable to keep up with the demand.” She added that at one time they had only half a day’s worth of plasma from donors to provide to hospitals.
Other blood centers in California, the state which currently has the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the country, are battling a similar issue. The medical director of the American Red Cross in Northern California stated, “We collect between 800 and 1,000 units of convalescent plasma a day nationwide. And we’re still sending it to the hospitals the minute we have it. We can’t keep up in some cases depending on which blood type is needed.”
A few groups and organizations have stepped up during the pandemic to offer their blood plasma for sick patients. One of these groups is called the Survivor Corps, a grassroots group boasting 100,000 members set on ending the pandemic through mobilizing efforts to gather convalescent plasma donations. In August the US FDA issued an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) allowing for the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients. Shortly after, it was reported that the plasma had reached over 70,000 Americans with the virus.
Another organization based out of South Korea called Shincheonji Church of Jesus held three record-breaking convalescent plasma donation drives in which almost 6,000 donations from members took place from July to December. About 1,700 members participated in the first two donation drives in July and September, and 4,000 members participated in the third one during November and December. Prior to these large-scale drives, only 23 blood plasma donors in one month had donated in Korea. The drives were held at the request of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to aid in the speedy development of effective treatment for those suffering with COVID-19. Some members donated in two or even all three drives. The donated plasma was used to treat COVID-19 patients and for research in developing other effective treatments and vaccines. One 78-year-old COVID-19 patient who recently received plasma from the Shincheonji drives fully recovered as a last effort to treat him after remdesivir and dexamethasone did not work. The Deputy Director of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in Korea stated about the donation, “We are grateful for the active participation of Shincheonji, and for the cooperation of the City of Daegu and the Korean Red Cross.” A video of the donation can be found here.
Although generous donations have already been made for treatment of patients ill with COVID-19, more convalescent plasma donations are desperately needed since COVID-19 case numbers have continued to increase since the Christmas and New Year holidays. Blood donation centers and hospitals are asking those who are eligible to make an appointment at their nearest donation center and give plasma to help those suffering with the virus.
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