“At this moment, we’ve collected tens of thousands of units for those in need,” said American Red Cross Communications Director Alyson Barraza.
And the American Red Cross says right now it’s dealing with an emergency shortage of plasma taken from recovered COVID-19 patients. The nonprofit began working with the FDA on collecting convalescent plasma, which has antibodies, in early spring.
“Unfortunately, we have seen this pandemic continue to roll on. The need is there. The need is great,” said Barraza.
But a report by the New York Times on Wednesday says the FDA put on hold issuing an emergency authorization for the use of it after concerns by top health officials about a lack of evidence.
The Mayo Clinic says there’s a strong hint convalescent plasma could help patients recover, but because it wasn’t a formal study, there’s no proof of what actually caused the improvement.
Asked about it on Wednesday, President Trump said the reported hold could be a political decision, that he’s heard good things about convalescent plasma as a treatment, and he doesn’t want delays.
“People are dying. We should have it approved if it’s good. I’m hearing it’s good. I heard from people at the FDA that it’s good,” said Trump.
Also on Wednesday, the US Department of Health and Human Services continued to encourage those who recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.
The Red Cross notes that any potential delay by the FDA doesn’t impact their efforts. The Red Cross released a statement saying in part, “We will continue to collect and distribute convalescent plasma via the FDA-approved Expanded Access Protocol that is being run by the Mayo Clinic, Single Patient Emergency Investigational New Drug (IND) program or other approved INDs to treat seriously ill patients. The Red Cross still needs fully-recovered COVID-19 survivors to give convalescent plasma to help meet the needs of seriously ill COVID-19 patients now and in the future.”
In order to donate, those who have recovered from COVID-19 must meet several eligibility requirements, including being symptom-free for at least 14 days and having had a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.
“This pandemic continues, and right now we are seeing these products, convalescent plasma units, going out to hospitals faster than they’re coming in,” said Barraza.
The Red Cross says donating plasma takes about two hours and you can donate more than once.
For more information, including where to sign up, head here: RedCrossBlood.org/Plasma4Covid