COVID-19 vaccine recipients can donate plasma to the American Red Cross, contrary to claims on social media that the Red Cross is not accepting these donations because the COVID-19 vaccine wipes out the body’s natural antibodies.
Plasma is the liquid component in blood and made up of water, proteins and nutrients. Plasma-only donations are used to help treat trauma, burn and shock patients, as well people with severe liver disease or problems with blood clotting (here).
This is different from COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which is plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection and that contains actual COVID-19 antibodies and can therefore be used as a treatment for others suffering from COVID-19 infection (here , here , here). Before they stopped collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma donations on March 26 due to declining hospital demand and sufficient supply, the Red Cross said they were not accepting convalescent plasma donations (not regular plasma donations) from those vaccinated against COVID-19, which is why the confusion may have arisen (here , here).
The posts (here , here , here , here , here) show a video news report which says the Red Cross position on convalescent plasma donations accompanied by captions that confuse plasma donations with convalescent plasma donations. They include, “The American Red Cross says you cannot donated Blood Plasma if you’ve had the vaccine, because the vaccine wipes out the body’s natural antibodies” and “The vaccine wipes out your natural antibodies”.
The COVID-19 vaccines make the body create antibodies against COVID-19, as explained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here .
Dr Baia Lasky, medical director for the American Red Cross (here), told Reuters via email that the claims in the social media posts are “inaccurate”. She said, “In most cases, you can donate blood, platelets and plasma after a COVID-19 vaccine as long as you’re feeling healthy and well.”
Reuters previously debunked similar claims here , explaining that the Red Cross is accepting blood plasma donations from people vaccinated against COVID-19 with all the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use in the United States.
Regarding convalescent plasma, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows people who had COVID-19 before they were vaccinated to donate dedicated convalescent plasma within six months of recovering from COVID-19, as set out here . The six months guidance is based on data that shows antibodies from natural infection can decline after that period, as explained by the Red Cross here . Therefore, antibodies from natural infection are not “wiped out” by the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Lasky explains that, “Antibodies that an individual produces when they’ve been exposed to the virus are slightly different from the antibodies that an individual produces when they’ve been vaccinated.”
The reason why the FDA is not advising that convalescent plasma be taken from all vaccinated individuals is to “ensure that COVID-19 convalescent plasma collected from donors contains antibodies directly related to their immune responses to SARS-CoV2 infection” rather than antibodies formed following vaccination.
An FDA spokesperson told Reuters via email that there is not yet any data on whether the plasma of vaccinated patients might be effective for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Although the Red Cross is no longer collecting dedicated COVID-19 convalescent plasma, Dr Lasky said that the Red Cross tests all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies and if they meet the necessary antibody threshold they can be used as convalescent plasma. This means that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 who have high enough levels of antibodies could have their plasma used as convalescent plasma.
False. The COVID-19 vaccine does not wipe out antibodies: those vaccinated can donate plasma to the Red Cross and can also donate convalescent plasma up to six months from infection if they had COVID-19 before the vaccine, according to FDA guidelines.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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