Trump urges Americans to donate plasma to fight COVID-19

Anna Edney and Jennifer Jacobs

President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Americans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma at local blood banks to help those who contract the virus potentially get better faster.

Trump told those who have had the virus that they “have something very special” and asked them to “volunteer to donate plasma as soon as you can.”

Plasma from people who recovered from the novel coronavirus is known as convalescent plasma and contains antibodies that can help others fight the virus. Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood.

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable on donating plasma at the American Red Cross national headquarters on Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Washington.

“This is going to be a major national initiative in the months ahead,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a roundtable on donating plasma at the American Red Cross national headquarters.

Trump, who spoke at the American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, has been appearing regularly at briefings for reporters and other events focused on the coronavirus after polls have shown growing disapproval of his performance on the virus.

Plasma is used early in the process to help people recover earlier rather than requiring hospitalization, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said. The U.S. government is working with the Mayo Clinic to prOVIDe it to COVID-19 patients at more than 2,700 sites across the country.

“Initial data available from studies using COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of individuals with severe or life-threatening disease indicate that a single dose of 200 mL showed benefit for some patients, leading to improvement,” according to the program’s website.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made it easier for the agency and insurers to track use of convalescent plasma as well as Gilead Sciences Inc.’s virus treatment remdesivir. The CMS assigned plasma and remdesivir codes that will go into effect Aug. 1.