Use of plasma to fight COVID-19 declining

Credit: WINK News.

It was seen as a lifeline when the pandemic started, but desperate calls for your plasma have suddenly stopped.

There was a big push for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate convalescent plasma because it was the only safe treatment that doctors could trust. There were also a lot more patients in hospitals, so the Mayo Clinic opened a nationwide trial that NCH and Lee Health were a part of.

One reason for the decline in calls for plasma: the vaccine.

“So what we are seeing in Florida right now, and I can speak of Collier County, we’ve reached almost 84% of those over age 65 who have now been vaccinated. So it makes sense that you still are seeing a decline in the use of plasma,” said Dr. David Linder, NCH medical director for COVID-19.

Linder said as they were using plasma, they were also researching its effectiveness. They knew plasma had few side effects because they used antibodies to treat patients with different viruses in the past. Since then, researchers have learned a lot about its treatment of COVID-19.

“And now we have further information. And finding out that basically, that the same important information of early use, we’re talking particularly in the first three days, is crucial. And again, we need high titer plasma, that means plasma that is rich with antibodies. And finally, now we’re adding another thing to the puzzle. And it’s best given to people who are older,” Linder said.

He said the goal of the trial was to make access easier for hospitals and it exceeded those expectations, but in the end, they learned it wasn’t for everybody.

Lee Health no longer collects plasma to treat COVID-19 patients. NCH said they do collect and use it, but it’s more controlled and they screen donors for the level of antibodies before they collect them.

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