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Could there be a plasma shortage as COVID-19 vaccine rates go up?

Posted at 4:57 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 07:57:17-04

PHOENIX — At the start of the pandemic, there was a big call for plasma donations from people who recovered from COVID-19 to help those who became hospitalized.

As more people get vaccinated, fewer people should be getting sick and, in theory, shrink the plasma supply.

ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Murvasti says the good news is plasma isn't the gold standard treatment anymore.

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"Plasma has actually fallen out of favor as a mainstay of therapy. It really isn't as commonly used because it just hasn't been shown to be as effective as some of these other agents," said Dr. Shad.

Those who have recovered from coronavirus still have those antibodies, so some have questioned whether they really need to get vaccinated.

Dr. Shad says, in short, absolutely.

"People who have natural immunity we know have antibodies detectable for at least three months, perhaps longer. So, if you think, 'Oh, I had COVID, I don't need to get the vaccine,' Well, you actually can increase your antibody level by ten times and can probably extend your immunity," he said.

The vaccine should provide antibodies from six months to a year and is being studied now which could bring new answers by fall.

Dr. Shad adds there is concern coronavirus case numbers could climb again in the fall if people who recovered from COVID choose not to get vaccinated and don't extend their immunity.

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.