An urgent appeal has been launched for recovered coronavirus patients to donate their blood plasma and provide an additional line of protection during a possible second wave of the virus.
As infections drop in lockdown, the number of appointments booked each week as part of the ongoing NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) convalescent plasma collection has also dropped by almost half in the past month.
NHSBT’s Chief Medical Officer Gail Miflin said that while nearly 13,000 donations have been made so far, more are urgently needed to help in the event of a second wave.
A major trial is currently looking at how convalescent plasma can be transfused into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response.
Men especially are being encouraged to help, after analysis reported in June showed that men produce more coronavirus antibodies than women, making them better plasma donors.
The new figures showed that 43 per cent of male donors had plasma rich enough in antibodies for their plasma to be included in the trial, compared with 29 per cent of women.
Results from the trial into the safety and effectiveness of such transfusions are expected later this year, but donations are being collected in advance in order for the NHS to have a stock ready to go.
Dailytimes gathered that donated plasma is frozen and can be used up to three years later.
Dr Miflin said: “We need people to offer to donate now so we are ready to potentially provide an additional line of protection during any second wave.
“The number of new infections has declined greatly which is fantastic news. Fewer people are getting Covid-19.
“This does mean we need to work harder to recruit new donors and we urgently need as many people as possible who have recovered to donate, to help us make as much progress as possible now.”
Comedian Hal Cruttenden, who has donated convalescent plasma twice, after spending 10 days ill with the virus, said it is a simple way to help.
Actor Bryan Cranston donates plasma to help Covid-19 research
Cruttenden said: “A lot of people feel powerless and it’s nice to be able to do something that other people can benefit from.
“And the truth is, it’s an easy way to feel good about yourself because you are not doing anything too hard – plus they give you biscuits.”
England’s oldest donor with high enough antibodies to take part in the trial will donate for the fourth time on Monday.
The 72-year-old former consultant cancer nurse said he was “very happy” to be told his antibody levels are high and added that he intends to keep donating for as long as he can.
“It could really make a difference to someone’s life. Donating is straightforward and you are sure to receive a warm welcome from the care team.”