Plasma Donations Are on the Front Lines of the Battle to Defeat COVID-19 - Paysign, Inc. (2024)

Plasma Donations Are on the Front Lines of the Battle to Defeat COVID-19 - Paysign, Inc. (1)


More than 2M deaths globally, stalled economies, record unemployment, social isolation, and the growing burden on overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare workers: That’s the true cost of the COVID-19 virus and resulting pandemic. As medical science continues to search for ways to prevent severe illness and death, Paysign has worked to stay abreast of the unfolding situation, potential treatments, and mitigation measures, as so many businesses have.

As a payments partner to the plasma collection industry since 2011, we have watched our source plasma collection partners work tirelessly providing the critical foundation that is used to develop numerous life-saving treatments.

Immunocompromised patients who might otherwise die without therapies derived from blood plasma collected by these partners have long benefitted from plasma donation. So, when the idea was first discussed earlier this year that a hyperimmune globulin derived from plasma may also fight against SARS-CoV-2, the disease caused by COVID-19, the significance of a potential therapy created from the antibodies of survivors sparked hope.

Hyperimmune globulin plasma therapies differ from convalescent plasma transfusions, which received an FDA emergency use approval earlier last year. The HIG treatment also uses plasma collected from recovered COVID-19 patients, but it is then further processed into a medicine with a larger antibody concentration and more consistent potency.

Paysign has had a front-row seat to these efforts, with our plasma partners advancing the development of these therapies at record speed, as we recently announced with ImmunoTek Bio Centers LLC.

Yet another partner, Grifols, S.A., a global leader in the development of therapies with plasma-derived proteins, announced a controlled clinical trial for its anti-SARS-CoV-2 hyperimmune globulin, which could be used for the treatment of the virus – either in concert with vaccines or alone.

“I don’t feel it is an overstatement to say that everyone on the planet wants to find a way to put COVID-19 in the past,” said Mark Newcomer, president and CEO of Paysign. “I think the average person has heard of convalescent plasma medicines at this point, but not many know what a powerful weapon they can be in the fight against this virus.”

We asked Vlasta Hakes, director of corporate affairs for Grifols, about what makes medicines created from plasma donation so powerful – and it starts with understanding what plasma is.

“Plasma is a portion of the blood that, essentially, is used as a starting material to create lifesaving medications,” she said.

Human bodies are designed to create the proteins and antibodies that allow our immune systems to identify and fight off pathogens. But some people, typically those with rare diseases, have compromised immune systems unable to make these lifesaving biological components. These people require medicine that will replace the antibodies and allow them to lead more normal lives.

“That’s where plasma donation comes in,” Hakes said. “Under normal circ*mstances, plasma is used to make medicines that contain antibodies that can help those with primary immune deficiencies. Now, the same idea is applying to the pandemic. By harnessing the antibodies of people who have beaten COVID-19, convalescent plasma medicines can provide aid on the front lines of this battle against the virus.”

The trial is the most recent stage of an initiative that began in March when Grifols partnered with U.S. government agencies, including the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institutes of Health.

According to Hakes, the study is working to determine if giving the anti-SARS-CoV-2, hyperimmune globulin when COVID-19 symptoms first appear, before a person’s immune system makes a protective immune response on its own, could augment the natural antibody response, reducing the risk of more serious illness and death.
“The medicine is like a preliminary boost for the immune system as the body develops antibodies,” she said, “During that in-between period, while we’re waiting for the body to develop its own antibodies to fight the disease.”

The Grifols study is the first international multi-center clinical trial of an anti-SARS-CoV-2 hyperimmune globulin, which is randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled, and adaptive. Patients will receive either the anti-SARS-CoV-2 hyperimmune globulin and remdesivir, or remdesivir plus placebo. The trial includes 500 hospitalized adults diagnosed with COVID-19 in up to 58 hospitals covering 18 countries, including the United States and Spain.

According to Hakes, Grifols has collected convalescent plasma from healthy, recovered COVID-19 donors in the U.S. using its plasma-center network and in Spain through a collaboration with blood banks.

“Grifols is excited about being a part of the solution,” Hakes said. “Even as there is still a great deal to learn about the virus.”

While the media has speculated that COVID-19 antibodies don’t appear to last, Hakes said there is not enough evidence to draw such a conclusion.

“We don’t know that antibodies don’t last, we are studying it,” she said. “People are eager for answers – so are we.”

Even though the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has begun, they likely won’t be available to the masses until spring 2021, and we will have a long way to go before infection and hospitalization rates see the impact of immunity provided by the vaccines.

According to Hakes, the vaccine is great news, but it does not change the fact that convalescent plasma medicines still have a place in treatment protocols for COVID-19. Hakes said that people who have recovered from the virus should consider donating plasma now.

“It’s more important now than ever,” she said. “I encourage everyone who can to donate and save lives.”

Paysign, a longtime partner of Grifols, has built and refined a prepaid debit card program for the plasma collection industry that addresses their unique set of needs while motivating and rewarding source plasma donors to increase both the frequency of donations and retention of repeat donors. Visit to learn more.

Plasma Donations Are on the Front Lines of the Battle to Defeat COVID-19 - Paysign, Inc. (2024)


What happens if you donate plasma with COVID? ›

A person's body makes specific antibodies when they have COVID-19. If you donate plasma after having COVID-19, some of those antibodies can be removed from the plasma and given to people to help them fight the illness.

Does donating plasma weaken your immune system? ›

Donating your plasma does not compromise your own immunity and you are required to wait 28 days between donations to be sure you maintain adequate antibodies so you don't harm your immune system.

What happens if you donate plasma while sick? ›

Your body relies on your blood to fight sickness, so it's always a bad idea to give blood while your immune system is compromised. Donating blood while sick can further compromise your immunity, perpetuate cold and flu symptoms, and even make those symptoms worse.

Is it bad to donate plasma? ›

For most people, donating plasma does not cause any side effects, but some donors can experience fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or dehydration. Additionally, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. While not typical, fainting can also occur. It's rare, but more serious infections or reactions can occur, which can be treated.

How long does it take to recover from donating plasma? ›

Plasma regenerates quickly. With proper hydration, your blood volume returns to normal within 48 hours. Because of this, you can give plasma twice in any 7-day period, but no more than once in a 48-hour period. You can typically schedule a return visit while you are at the plasma center.

Does donating plasma clean your blood? ›

But aside from the lifestyle changes, donating plasma has direct benefits on your cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that the collection process for plasma can clean the blood, which helps regulate cholesterol in the blood and decrease your risk of heart disease.

How does donating plasma affect your body long term? ›

It's possible that immunoglobulin can delete over time in some people who regularly donate for a long period. This can be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Your medical checks before each donation will ensure your immunoglobulin levels are safe enough for you to donate.

Why do they check your arms when donating plasma? ›

The screening staff member uses these numbers, along with your sex, height, and weight, to figure out how much plasma you can donate. Next, the screening staff member inspects your arm. They are checking for rashes, plaques, and vein issues that may make it difficult to donate.

Can donating plasma affect your heart? ›

Plasma and platelets risks

The following are very rare events. A life-threatening reaction can occur but the likelihood of an event occurring is minimised by our safety protocols: Severe reaction to citrate: can include muscle contractions or spasms, seizures, breathing difficulties or disturbance of heart rhythm.

Who pays the most for plasma? ›

BioLife Plasma Services is among the top payers in the plasma donation industry. On average, BioLife pays about $20 for the first visit and between $30-50 for subsequent donations. Donors can earn up to $1,200 per month, making BioLife an attractive option for regular donors.

What medical conditions disqualify you from donating plasma? ›

Those diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness–like high blood pressure, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, or a primary immunodeficiency (PI)–are not eligible to donate plasma. Those who have high blood pressure would need to be tested to see what their current blood pressure is at the time of donating.

Why do people not donate plasma? ›

There are those in high-risk groups who should not donate blood or plasma. They include people who have: Injected drugs or steroids not prescribed by a doctor within the last three months. Tested positive for HIV.

Can donating plasma make you lose weight? ›

People burn around 500 calories1 from a blood or plasma donation as the body uses energy to replace the donation.

How soon can I donate blood after a COVID infection? ›

You must be fully recovered from COVID-19 and symptom-free for a least 10 days before donating blood. If you have had a positive diagnostic test in the past 10 days for COVID-19 but didn't have symptoms, you will need to wait 10 days after the COVID-19 test.

Is a plasma needle bigger than a blood needle? ›

A smaller needle is used to connect you to the apheresis machine that separates out your plasma. As it's separated out, the rest of your blood components are returned to you, along with a saline solution.

What is plasma treatment for immune system? ›

Convalescent plasma therapy is a treatment that gives you antibodies to help fight an infection, from a donor who's recovered from the same infection. Its goal is usually to reduce your risk of life-threatening illness.

Can I donate plasma if I have diarrhea? ›

Can I donate? Depending on the cause of the diarrhoea, you'll need to wait between one and four weeks after recovering. Check with us about your symptoms and eligibility by contacting us.

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