COVID-19 patients’ plasma could help fight virus

The New Zealand Blood Service is contacting recovered COVID-19 patients about donating plasma. Image: RNZ.

Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients could help others fight the virus.

The New Zealand Blood Service is contacting recovered COVID-19 patients to discuss whether they would be willing to donate their plasma to help treat others seriously affected by the virus.

The treatment known as convalescent plasma is not a new concept. It has been used since the 1920’s and in recent years has been used against SARS, H1N1 influenza, and other viruses.

Plasma is collected from people who have fully recovered and pose no risk of infecting others. This is called convalescent plasma and contains antibodies to the infection they’ve recovered from. It is these antibodies that can help others to fight off the infection.

The process being used is the same as in other countries such as the United Kingdom and United States.

“We are pleased to be able to help New Zealand in the fight against COVID-19,” says New Zealand Blood Service chief medical officer Sarah Morley.

“Recent international studies have indicated that patients with the virus may respond well to convalescent plasma.

“We are working closely with regional public health services to speak to recovered patients who are eligible to donate, to gauge their interest in donating convalescent plasma. The plasma we collect will be frozen and ready for use by hospitals for any future patients that need it

“Whilst we appreciate this is a potentially exciting development in the treatment of COVID-19 in New Zealand, we also recognise that this may raise some questions amongst our current donors.

“We want to reassure everyone that this development still means donor centres are extremely safe places to visit. A recovered patient, as classified by the Ministry of Health, poses no potential risk to the wider community and they are no longer infectious.

“NZBS is extremely grateful that even in these extraordinary and unprecedented times, New Zealanders in need of blood and blood products are still able to rely on the kindness and generosity of blood donors,” says Sarah.

More information on donating blood during the COVID-19 lockdown can be found here.

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