Plasma infusions considered for COVID-19 treatment

The people who are now recovered from COVID-19 could be part of the solution in treating some of the sickest patients by using their plasma, officials at the department of health and Blood Bank of Hawaii are looking into plasma infusions as a possible treatment.

There is still no definitive treatment for COVID-19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved plasma infusions as a treatment, but it is regulated as an “Investigational Product”.

The director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, Dr. Bruce Anderson, said plasma infusions could be promising.

“It may be a lifesaving thing to have blood or plasma with an antibody in it that could help to fight off this disease,” Anderson said. “It’s a little early to tell, and one of the things that are missing is the lack of a good antibody test that is reliable.”

The antibody tests are new, the DOH laboratory is not doing blood tests and some private labs are still working on providing them to the public.

Anderson said once antibody tests are up and running, getting plasma from blood donations would be the next step.

Anderson said, “That’s an exciting new possibility, the blood bank I know is interested and looking to see if plasma can be used for treatment purposes for seriously ill individuals.”

The CEO of the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Kim-Ahn Nguyen in statement said:

“As Hawaii’s sole provider of healing and life-saving blood products to Hawaii’s hospitals, we are committed to exploring all relevant options in therapeutic treatment for our local COVID-19 patients, including convalescent plasma. The term refers to a component of blood from patients that have recovered from COVID-19 that contains sufficient antibodies to potentially provide passive immunity for certain COVID-19 patients. It’s important to clarify that this is considered an experimental treatment recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used on an emergency basis for critically ill patients who meet the FDA criteria.”

We formed a broad coalition of private and public sector partners to explore and create the coordinated response necessary for an ethical yet expedited implementation, taking into consideration important factors such as a limited donor pool, donor eligibility and patient selection. We believe that this collaborative approach is essential to establishing a successful and sustainable convalescent plasma program for Hawaii, and look forward to sharing additional information as it becomes available.”

Given that plasma infusions are considered an experimental treatment, only the sickest patients would qualify.

Anderson said, “I think across the country people are looking to see and are looking at that as a possible treatment method.”

The FDA said people who donate blood for plasma treatments must have tested positive for COVID-19 and symptom-free for at least 28 days prior to donation, or be 14 days symptom-free with a negative follow-up test.

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