WASHINGTON — As coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the country, the White House is highlighting the need for plasma donations.
In an interview with Spectrum News, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx says people who have previously contracted the coronavirus may donate their own plasma and help patients who are currently infected.
"Throughout the history of immunology,” Dr. Birx said, "plasma from recovered patients that contain those rich antibody sources that help them recover, the virus exists in their bodies and it’s about taking that and putting that into a person that is newly infected. Giving them that jump start with those antibodies that they will eventually develop."
According to the CDC, convalescent plasma is "the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.” The CDC says “convalescent plasma is being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no approved treatment for this disease and there is some information that suggests it might help some patients recover from COVID-19."
Birx also notes that some groups, such as people under 65, have more antibody rich plasma compared to others. However, she encourages everyone to donate their plasma regardless of how many antibodies it may contain, emphasizing that it will, "go to a good cause."
In the United States, gay and bisexual men are still struggling to donate, even after the FDA reduced the amount of time that they must abstain from sexual activity with other men from 12 months to three months in April. Dr. Birx says the FDA is continuing to evaluate this policy.
"I have been in HIV and infectious disease. We know that the majority of individuals practice very safely. I work with the FDA. That’s my personal opinion. I think the FDA is the correct group to decide this but I’ve always had a position that no specific category should be excluded.
As the Trump administration continues to make the push to reopen schools, Dr. Birx says the CDC guidelines will be helpful.