For a month now the local plasma center has been accepting convalescent donations from those that have recovered from COVID-19.
Grifols Biomat USA, which is located at 1045 1/2 North Main in Logan, had the ability to start collecting plasma from those recovered from the coronavirus on May 18, and the first donation at the center was made on May 20. That person has continued to donate twice a week. Donors are limited to two donations in a seven-day period of time.
“Right now we have one convalescent donor, but we have the capacity for much more,” said Tyler Scriver, the center manager in Logan.
The local center has many donors and continues to encourage people to become donors as the plasma has been used in many ways to help those that are sick. Convalescent plasma could be used to help treat those still fighting the virus.
The Grifols website explains that those who have recovered from the disease have developed antibodies against the virus. Those antibodies, along with the memory cells to multiply their production, reside in their blood plasma. If they're able to donate some of their plasma, and their antibodies with it, it may help others who are still fighting the virus to make a recovery while producing more antibodies and maintain their own immunity.
Since the novel coronavirus was first discovered, the use of convalescent plasma to help treat those with it could be the world's first promising treatment. This isn't a vaccine, since vaccines help stimulate the development of immunity before the person ever gets sick. With convalescent plasma, Grifols can develop a specific medicine, an immunoglobulin, to potentially treat the disease.
According to Vlasta Hakes, who is the corporate affairs person at Grifols Biomat USU, a program to collect convalescent plasma began the end of April at a few select centers. That continues to be done at more of the 290 centers globally and 251 in the U.S.
“Grifols has 246 centers participating, plus we know many of our competitors are also collecting plasma from those who have recovered,” Hakes said.
“... Interested donors must have a diagnosis made with a test — nasal swab or blood — or an antibody test as long as it is one that has Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA and complete resolution of COVID-19 symptoms at least 28 days prior to donation. Or complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days prior to donation along with a negative molecular test for COVID-19, as well as meet our routine eligibility criteria for normal source plasma donation.”
Scriver said at this time Grifols is not testing for COVID-19, but is looking into it. He added a convalescent donor has to meet the same qualifications as other donors.
“A CC19 donor is treated like any other donor when they come in,” Scriver said. “They still have to pass all of the regular screening procedures and meet the requirements of a current plasma donor. The biggest difference in a CC19 donation is the steps taken before the donor’s first visit.”
Those were outlined by Hakes.
“For individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, donating plasma at one of Grifols’ donor centers to produce a potential treatment for the disease is a way they can help make a difference during this exceptional time,” said Dr. Marilyn Rosa-Bray, Grifols chief medical officer and vice president of quality, regulatory compliance & laboratories, in a press release. “This hyperimmune globulin would offer treating physicians a predictable and consistent dosing of the antibody against the virus that caused COVID-19.”
Hyperimmune globulins are plasma derived medicines that are effective in the treatment of severe acute infections. The belief is that plasma from recovered COVID-19 donors will help patients that are dealing with the infection right now.
Hakes explained that Grifols has a manufacturing facility in Clayton, North Carolina, that is producing medicine to be put into a clinical trial. All the recovered COVID-19 plasma will go to this facility.
“We are thrilled with all the donors that have come and donated,” Hakes said. “We continue to encourage more people who have recovered to donate as we will continue to need more plasma to be able to produce enough medicine.
“... We encourage anyone to be a plasma donor, even if you haven’t had COVID-19. Plasma is critical to produce many other life-saving medicines that patients continue to need. So anyone can help make a difference during this time.”
“Donating their plasma is an opportunity for those who have recovered from COVID-19 to make a difference during this exceptional time and be part of a potential treatment to help to those who might get COVID-19 in the future,” Scriver said.
Plus, donors are compensated.
“Due to the time and commitment required to be regular donor, we provide a compensation for their effort,” Scriver said. “Convalescent CC19 donors are compensated just like our all of our donors.”
Deemed an essential business, Grifols has remained open throughout the pandemic, following protocols set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are practicing social distancing throughout the facility by seating donors on every other donation bed and temporarily reducing the number of available seats in the lobby,” Hakes said. “We are asking everyone to wear facecovings. We are limiting the number of donors in our centers. We are also enhancing existing cleaning protocols and personal protective equipment for employees. We are monitoring employee and donor temperatures at the door, and we ask people who are not feeling well to stay home.”
To learn more about donating plasma, visit www.grifolsplasma.com.