We need a concerted effort to collect blood plasma, along with clinical trials to determine when its benefits outweigh the risks so we can treat the right people at the right time. With that evidence in hand, we need to maintain a highly synchronized distribution system to get the plasma to the right health-care facilities in a timely and equitable way.
The good news is the work is already underway. A broad coalition of medical and research institutions, blood centers, life science and technology companies, philanthropic organizations and covid-19 survivor groups has already come together to launch a campaign. This group, called The Fight Is In Us, is working to drive awareness and recruit plasma donors across the country.
This effort should be coupled with serious studies to figure out whether and when plasma works. Thousands of covid-19 patients have been treated with plasma, but we are not much closer to definitively answering those questions. Its use makes common sense, and preliminary studies are promising, but we won’t know how to best use convalescent plasma products until we complete randomized clinical trials in which some people are treated and others receive usual care.