Superdonors: Recovered COVID patients with high antibody levels in demand by blood banks and researchers

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Credit: Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat

There is new determination in the search for high-antibody plasma because under FDA guidelines issued earlier this month, all donated plasma units will soon have to be labeled either “high titer” or “low titer,” referring to the concentration of antibodies. The FDA, in documents issued as part of the emergency-use authorization, said data suggest transfusions of high-titer plasma might be effective in reducing mortality in some hospitalized patients.

The emergency-use authorization covers both high- and low-titer plasma. Blood banks, unsurprisingly, expect greater demand for plasma with high levels.

“We expect hospitals will want high-titer plasma,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president of Vitalant, a network of nearly a dozen community blood centers. “We don’t know if we will have enough.”

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The expectation that both hospitals and clinicians will opt for high-titer plasma has led at least one researcher to consider whether vaccinating patients who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection might boost their level of neutralizing antibodies, which scientists believe are critical for attacking the virus.

“We want to take a person who has recovered from Covid and make them a superdonor with very high antibody levels,” said [Vitalant Research Institute director] Dr. Philip J. Norris… High-antibody plasma from such donors could be tested to see if it is more effective in helping others fight off the disease.

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