As more people in the United States get the COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. regulators have updated the rules about who can – and cannot – donate convalescent plasma intended as a COVID-19 treatment.
Donors who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can still donate “source” plasma.
What’s the difference? “Source plasma” is used to make treatments for people with rare and serious diseases. “Convalescent plasma” is collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19 for the antibodies against the virus.
Previously, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said COVID-19 vaccine recipients could not donate convalescent plasma. But recently, the FDA updated those recommendations to say that vaccinated people may donate convalescent plasma if they:
- had symptoms of COVID-19 and a positive test result from a diagnostic test approved, cleared, or authorized by FDA
- received the COVID-19 vaccine after diagnosis of COVID-19
- are within six months after complete resolution of COVID-19 symptoms
“This is to ensure that COVID-19 convalescent plasma collected from donors contains sufficient antibodies directly related to their immune response to COVID-19 infection,” according to the guidance.
Convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors has been given to hospitalized people struggling to recover from the virus. CSL Behring, along with an alliance of industry partners, used convalescent plasma to create a medicine containing concentrated antibodies against COVID-19. Researchers are studying that medicine, called a “hyperimmune,” in a clinical trial sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
And what about donation of “source plasma?”
In a Jan. 19 FDA update, the agency emphasizes it is “imperative that healthy individuals continue to donate blood and blood components,” including source plasma. The agency reinforced general donor qualifications and added new information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and donations:
- Individuals who received a non-replicating, inactivated or mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine can donate without a waiting period;
- Individuals who received a live-attenuated viral COVID-19 vaccine should refrain from donating for a short waiting period (e.g., 14 days) after receipt of the vaccine; and
- Individuals who are uncertain about which COVID-19 vaccine was administered, should refrain from donating for a short waiting period (e.g., 14 days) if it is possible that the individual received a live-attenuated viral vaccine.