FALLS CHURCH, VA—The DoD has committed to collecting more than 8,000 units of plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 by September 30, 2020. The collection will enable researchers to better understand trends in antibody production in individuals who have recovered from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and build a supply for treatment of patients who test positive for COVID-19.
“We may want to ask you to stick your arm out and donate blood,” said Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “What that can then do is help others who are severely ill, and if we can do that, then we’ll be on a good path toward getting some really powerful therapeutics.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of convalescent plasma as an investigational treatment for patients with moderate or severe infections with the novel coronavirus in March. Convalescent plasma has been studied in several other diseases and reduced mortality in the 1918 pandemic influenza, 2009 pandemic influenza, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.1 Its effectiveness in COVID-19 is unclear.
“Although promising, convalescent plasma has not yet been shown to be safe and effective as a treatment for COVID-19,” the FDA noted in its authorization. “Therefore, it is important to study the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in clinical trials.”
The DoD is tracking patients who received care for the coronavirus through MHS facilities to ask for donations of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP). It has also developed training for all clinical and administrative personnel in military treatment facilities to enable them to discuss the collection program with patients.
“The CCP training empowers the clinical team and administrative staff to engage COVID-19 positive patients and inform them of the opportunity to donate plasma in support of the CCP Program,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Anita Fligge, chief, Defense Health Agency Education and Training Directorate. “Every patient contact can lead to eligible patients donating their plasma to help others who are acutely ill with COVID-19, now or in the future.”
The department also urges those who received care elsewhere, managed the disease at home, or were asymptomatic but tested positive for COVID-19 virus or antibodies to participate in the collection program.
“If you were diagnosed with COVID-19, tested positive for antibodies, AND you’ve been symptom-free for two weeks, consider donating your plasma at one of the military’s blood donation centers,” urged the Military Health System in information on the collection program.
As of publication, the DoD’s convalescent donation sites include Fort Benning, GA; Fort Bliss, TX; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; the Tripler Army Medical Center, HI; Keesler Air Force Base, MS; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. In addition, blood donor centers at the Naval hospitals in Guam; Camp Lejeune, NC; Portsmouth, NH, and San Diego, and Naval Station Great Lakes, IL, were participating as were blood donor centers at Joint Bases Lewis-McChord, WA; San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX; San Antonio-Lackland, TX, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.
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