New FDA guidance on convalescent plasma restricts which COVID-19 patients can receive it

People who can donate has also been restricted

SAN ANTONIO – Despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent update on the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is still encouraging people who are eligible to donate.

In February, the FDA narrowed its requirements for donors and recipients after reviewing findings from clinical trials. Some found patients did not benefit from receiving convalescent plasma. Others showed they only benefitted during specific circumstances.

“Initially, it was a larger group of patients that could get convalescent plasma. Now, with the recent revision, it’s limited to hospitalized patients early in the course of the disease,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, associate medical director at STBC.

The new recommendations say hospitals should use convalescent plasma with high levels of COVID-19 antibodies before a patient is intubated or placed on a ventilator.

Since early data suggest that plasma with high antibody levels is more beneficial, collectors encourage donors who recently recovered from the virus to donate plasma.

“So the closer you are to when you had COVID, the likely the higher levels of antibodies will be,” Gomez said.

If your plasma is found to have low levels of antibodies, hospitals can still use it for other medical treatments, according to STBC.

As clinicians and researchers continue looking into investigational therapies, the FDA will update its guidance on any treatment that has been approved under emergency use.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens a month from now ... even two weeks from now because everything is happening so fast. We’re learning so much, and there’s this thirst for finding the best therapies for patients,” Gomez said.

According to updated guidance from the FDA, if you received a COVID-19 vaccine, you can donate plasma if you have proof of a positive test result, received the vaccine after diagnosis and are within six months after your symptoms resolved.

To schedule a donation, click here.

About the Authors:

Brina is the Executive Producer of the NightBeat and KSAT Explains. She has been with KSAT since 2015. She is a Houston native and proud to call San Antonio home.