The NHS is asking people who have recovered from coronavirus to donate blood plasma so it can be used as a possible treatment in the case of a second wave.
The blood plasma of survivors contains antibodies which can help current patients fight off the virus.
Currently, 17,000 donations have been made to the NHS but to complete the trials, 85,000 donations are needed.
Patients who were in hospital with severe Covid-19 tend to have higher levels of antibodies. As men were more likely to fall seriously ill with the virus, they have been urged to come forward.
Dr Lise Estcourt, Head of NHS Blood and Transplant’s Clinical Trials Unit, said: ‘We’re not sure yet why there is an imbalance in people coming forward but we do know we need more men to offer to donate.
‘Men have a special role to play in fighting this virus. Men who’ve had coronavirus are more likely to be able to save lives.
‘We’re urgently asking men who’ve had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms to offer to donate and help us be prepared for any second wave of COVID this autumn – you could save lives.’
Since the plasma programme began, 73,369 women have offered to donate, making up 63% of volunteers.
The antibody-rich plasma can be used to transfuse those who are struggling to develop their immune response, stopping or slowing the spread of the virus and saving lives.
Donors like Paul Carey Jones are an example of the type of candidate that the trial needs.
The 46-year-old opera singer had symptoms of the virus and went on to donate convalescent plasma at the Tooting donor centre, where his high antibody levels were confirmed.
He said: ‘Donation was straightforward, comfortable and easy from start to finish. The staff know exactly how each step of it works and the donation itself takes less than an hour and is pretty much painless – and even quite relaxing in a strange sort of way.
‘The human cost of this pandemic has been huge. It’s better to be out there in the fight than watching from the sidelines. Don’t hesitate to go for it. You’ll feel better for having played your part,’ he told doctors.
Donating plasma takes around 45 minutes.
NHS Blood and Transplant have reported that around 230 people have received plasma infusion so far and preliminary trial results are expected later this year.
Plasma donations are being take in:
- London’s West End.
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