Federal health officials urge blood banks to boost supply of convalescent plasma

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Federal health officials are working with the American Red Cross and other blood donation organizations in an effort to boost supplies of convalescent plasma, a promising COVID-19 treatment, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Convalescent plasma is a blood product collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19 that carries antibodies that could help those sick with the disease recover. 

While convalescent plasma hasn't been FDA approved as a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, about 28,000 patients have received it and a report published last month in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings said that serious adverse events occurred in less than 1 percent of patients receiving the plasma.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has asked the Red Cross and the blood donation industry's group, America's Blood Centers, if they can collect about 400,000 units of convalescent plasma, according to the Journal. America's Blood Centers represents 46 nonprofit blood centers in the U.S. 

America's Blood Centers signed a contract with the authority last month for the government agency to provide $102 million for collecting, processing and shipping convalescent plasma, the Journal reported. 

A spokesperson for HHS told the Journal: "We are looking to collect as much convalescent plasma as the industry can bear without impacting normal blood collections."

The Red Cross told the Journal that about 60,000 people have filled out an application to donate convalescent plasma, but for every 100 people who sign up, only about 20 successfully donate. Some people don't meet eligibility requirements, and others change their minds. The Red Cross estimates that collecting 200,000 units would take about 500,000 donors. 

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