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A treatment President Donald Trump received to treat his coronavirus works in a manner similar to convalescent plasma treatment.
The difference is that this “cocktail of antibodies” by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc was manufactured in a laboratory, Dr. Gary J. Bachowski, a medical director for the American Red Cross, said.
In fact one day, this type of treatment may supplant the need for convalescent plasma, Bachowski said.
“You won't have to have people getting sick to have more treatment available,” Bachowski said.
Convalescent plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies from people who’ve already had the virus.
“So those antibodies might help someone else who’s been infected,” Bachowski said.
In April, the Red Cross began collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma from previously diagnosed individuals, the Red Cross said.
But now, plasma from whole blood donations made through an American Red Cross blood drive or donation center will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, the Red Cross said.
Donors will receive their antibody test results within one to two weeks in the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
The Red Cross stressed is not testing antibodies to diagnosis the virus. A positive test doesn't mean a person is sick or immune from the coronavirus, the Red Cross said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved convalescent plasma for use. The FDA is currently regulating it as an investigational product.
In fact, patients with sickle cell are at risk for greater complications from all respiratory viruses, including the coronavirus, Bachowski said.
So although blood types must be matched for plasma transfusions, it’s not as critical as when transfusing red blood cells, Bachowski said.
But that doesn’t mean any person can receive any plasma.
“The plasma still needs to match for the ABO antibodies,” Bachowski said.
Another difference is that people with O negative blood can often safely donate red blood cells to anyone. But with plasma donations, the universal type is AB negative.
Convalescent plasma isn’t a new treatment. It even played a role in treating Spanish flu patients in the early 20th century, Bachowski said.
A study published in 2016 on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website said serum from recovered patients was used to successfully treat people who were seriously ill during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Serum therapy later showed clinical benefit with other virus diseases, such as measles and polio as well as pneumococcus, an invasive bacterial infections, the study also said.
During October, the Red Cross will host three blood drives in Will County. These are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Spanish Community Center, 309 N Eastern Ave., Joliet; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 19, Romeoville Recreation Center, 900 W Romeo Road, Romeoville; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 23, The Promenade Bolingbrook, 631 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook.
To schedule an appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).