In the starting months of the Covid-19 pandemic, blood donation stations throughout the United States were collecting convalescent plasma as much as possible due to the miracle of its treatment in Covid-19.
Blood Banks Have Stopped Obtaining Convalescent Plasma But The United States Fears A Blood Shortage
Now, these clinics are going away from the collection of convalescent plasma and even in doing antibody testing to the volunteers who want to donate. Now the cases are going down and the number of vaccinations is going up so doctors are not giving the plasma as the clinical tests show that plasma is neither lowering the Covid-19 deaths nor is shortening hospital stays.
The US Food and Drug Administration has made changes to the emergency cases’ procedure. It is restricting the use of convalescent plasma in hospitalized victims who are early in their infection course.
So demands of plasma in hospitals are decreasing and the stock of plasma in blood banks is piled up; it has a year life if required in the future.
While the plasma needs have fallen, the shortage of blood is increasing in blood banks.
CEO of America’s Blood Centers, whose members contribute 60% of the nation’s blood supply, Kate Fry said that the centers might have stopped collecting plasma yet are doing antibody screening. She added that however at the same time the nation’s supply of blood is in “precarious” condition as currently in many blood centers they are seeing less than 2 days supply of certain blood.
Large and small centers last spring have done free antibody tests and if the blood donors are tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 antibodies then convalescent plasma was collected from them. This procedure was performed to treat the hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Many of the centers for donation have stopped taking antibody tests. This includes LifeSouth and Bloodworks Northwest which assists 100 southeast hospitals and 90 hospitals in the Pacific northwest respectively. The chief medical officer of LifeStream said the blood bank that used to serve almost 80 hospitals in California is winding up the testing program.
Spokeswoman Tami Kou mentioned that the blood centers in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio are also winding up antibody testing this month.
The current situation is in a severe condition than the time a year ago. Officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, US Surgeon Jerome Adams, and other leaders started calling on the recovered patients from Covid-19 to submit their plasma for use by other Covid hospitalized patients.
In July, The US Department of Health and Human Services declared an $8 million ad campaign begging the Americans to donate the plasma. FDA in August gave initial emergency permission to treat Covid-19 hospitalized patients with it.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said last year to all the Americans that if you have recovered from the Covid-19 then you can help everyone in the fight by donating plasma.
The national government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was reimbursing the blood banks to collect plasma. In a big way, all the Covid-19 survivors have stepped up throughout 2020.
Dr. Joe Chaffin, chief medical officer for LifeStream said that it is extraordinary to see how all the Covid-19 survivors were willing to give themselves in helping others. He added that while everyone is saddened that the impact was not as much as they were expecting, however, he salutes them for their help.
He demonstrated that the blood bank in Los Angeles was giving almost 75 units of convalescent plasma per day to all the hospitals in the severe rush of Covid-19. Now the demand is lessened and they are down to one unit per day.