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Pandemic limits plasma donors, though donations are crucial for COVID-19 treatment

“The FDA regulations say that those who have the vaccine cannot also give convalescent plasma but otherwise the vaccines that currently out do not differ people from giving blood,” said Barari.
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 7:41 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Depending on the item, donations are either way up or way down. When the donations are a matter of life and death, the pandemic has added a unique twist.

Convalescent plasma. Another new term accompanying the pandemic. But what exactly is it?

“Convalescent plasma is the plasma that we take from donors who have recovered from COVID-19,” said Molly Barari, a donor recruitment representative for Vitalant. “The antibodies in that plasma help boost the patient’s immune system, so it’s one of the best therapies that we have right now, which is why we have an urgent need for people to come in and give convalescent plasma.”

Moderna and Pfizer have rolled out COVID vaccines, slowly making their way into arms across America but receiving the shot make you ineligible for convalescent plasma donation, for now.

“The FDA regulations say that those who have the vaccine cannot also give convalescent plasma but otherwise, the vaccines that currently out do not differ people from giving blood,” said Barari.

The FDA put out a guide for convalescent plasma donation saying, “You should not collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma from individuals who have received an investigational COVID-19 vaccine, or received an authorized or licensed COVID-19 vaccine. This is to ensure that COVID-19 convalescent plasma collected from donors contains antibodies directly related to their immune response to COVID-19 infection.”

Although giving plasma may be off-limits for the time being, blood donations can still happen with or without the vaccine.

“Routine surgeries, routine illnesses, they don’t just stop during the pandemic,” said Barari. “So we need to have a steady blood supply on hand.”

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