Researchers are testing the use of donated blood as a treatment for people with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
People who've recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies to the disease in their blood. Doctors call this convalescent plasma. Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can be given to people with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has outlined the requirements that individuals must meet to donate blood for this research. Before donated blood can be used, it must be tested for safety. It then goes through a process to separate out blood cells so that all that's left is plasma with antibodies.
The immediate goal of this research is to determine if convalescent plasma can improve the chance of recovery for people with the most severe disease. A second goal is to test whether convalescent plasma can help keep people who are moderately sick from getting sicker.
Such a treatment would be a boon for people at high risk — such as with underlying medical conditions, as well as family members and health care workers who have been exposed.
In addition, learning more about the use of convalescent plasma now will help health care workers be better prepared if a second wave of disease occurs, as has happened with past viral outbreaks.
To find out if you may be eligible for this treatment, talk with your doctor.
If you've had and recovered from COVID-19, consider donating blood through the American Red Cross or your local donation center. They can provide information about the donation process.