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Lifeblood joins fight to combat COVID-19 in Australian first

Wednesday 6th May 2020

Lifeblood has announced it will start collecting convalescent plasma for the first time, in a bid to try and help the fight against COVID-19. 

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies. Once someone has recovered from COVID-19, the antibodies against the virus remain in their plasma. 

“Plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 may help boost the immunity of patients still battling the disease,” Lifeblood Chief Executive Shelly Park said. 

“We have been in discussions with governments and CSL Behring Australia about how we could quickly assist in any clinical trials of this treatment in Australia and will begin collecting plasma from recovered donors from Monday.

“The plasma we collect will be used to treat patients in clinical trials, both as a form of direct treatment and as a medication called COVID-19 Immunoglobulin, which may provide passive immunity against coronavirus infections,” said Ms Park. 

Convalescent plasma can only be donated by someone with a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19, who has fully recovered from the virus and been symptom-free for at least 28 days. 

“We’ll be talking to hospitals and health departments in order to recruit donors as well as looking to our existing donors to identify suitable participants,” Ms Park added. 

“We’re very proud to be part of this initiative that will support the important work and clinical trials being undertaken by researchers in Australia, and the development of COVID-19 Immunoglobulin by CSL Behring. This work may ultimately help treat patients suffering from this terrible disease and I would urge anyone who has recovered from a confirmed case of COVID-19 who thinks they may be eligible to donate blood, to contact us. 

“It’s important to note that safety is Lifeblood’s number one priority and there is no risk to donors or staff from this initiative. Our convalescent plasma donors will have to satisfy the same strict eligibility criteria as our other donors and the process of collecting convalescent plasma is the same as the existing plasma donation process,” Ms Park said.

CSL’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Charmaine Gittleson said, “With a 104-year heritage of serving Australia’s health needs, CSL is committed to working in partnership with the Commonwealth Government and Lifeblood to respond to the current pandemic. Our efforts will leverage the full spectrum of our onshore capabilities, from research and development, through to advanced manufacturing to provide Australian clinicians with an additional treatment option in the fight against COVID-19.”
Convalescent plasma is being trialled as a treatment for patients suffering from COVID-19 in a number of countries including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.

“Donating plasma is a simple, powerful act that could help a patient struggling to fight the disease. It is a real opportunity for people who have battled COVID-19 to become part of a potential solution,” Ms Park added.

In addition to the recovery period, donors need to meet Lifeblood’s eligibility criteria.

If you have recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and believe you may be eligible to donate, please call 13 14 95 and mention that you want to donate convalescent plasma or visit lifeblood.com.au.

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