Plasma with coronavirus antibodies in short supply at Texas blood banks


AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Health officials in Texas are encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma.

Due to the shortage of convalescent plasma donations, some Texas blood banks are rationing supplies and ordering what they can from blood banks in New York according to NewsNation affiliate KXAN.

The organization We Are Blood said only about 400 to 500 of those who’ve recovered have donated convalescent plasma to help others hospitalized with the virus.

“So instead of two doses being given to a hospitalized COVID patient early in their course, which seems so far to be the most optimal therapy, they’re having to give one dose to patients more critical in their course later to try to keep them alive,” said Marshall Cothran, president and CEO of We Are Blood.

Cothran asked county government Tuesday to fund a $600,000 campaign to recruit donors and stockpile thousands of plasma donations.

If approved, funding for the campaign would buy media ads and new machines for mobile plasma donations. The funding would also allow the organization to test everyone who comes in to donate, for antibodies to see if enough antibodies are present.

“There’s so many people out there that could have had COVID, asymptomatic, or they never got tested to create their diagnosis that could be caught and brought in and identified,” Cothran said.

Austin Public Health says increasing the area’s supply could be the best way to prepare for the future.

The National Institutes of Health recently said there isn’t enough data to show convalescent plasma helps COVID-19 patients, but with the drug Remdesivir in short supply, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott says treating patients with convalescent plasma is the best bet.

“Talking to our clinicians, talking to our healthcare executives, from our three major systems… they all believe in the benefit of convalescent plasma,” Escott said Tuesday. “All of those systems are still utilizing convalescent plasma, and it’s the thing that we have. It’s the thing that we can get.”

Austin Public Health routinely asks those who test positive for COVID-19 if they’d be willing to donate plasma during the contact tracing process. It’s then up to the patient to work with We Are Blood to coordinate.

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