NorthBay Began Plasma Treatment Through Mayo Network

Posted: September 9, 2020

NorthBay Healthcare recently began using plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients, joining a network of thousands of hospitals across the country.

The treatment involves transfusing plasma donated by someone who has recovered from COVID-19 into a hospitalized COVID patient. Plasma is the almost-clear liquid that remains after red and white blood cells and platelets are removed from the blood.

The idea behind the treatment — known as convalescent plasma therapy — is that people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus when transfused into patients with serious, active disease.

NorthBay began the effort under the umbrella of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which provided access to a nationwide program spearheaded by Mayo Clinic. In August, the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of convalescent plasma (EUA), so Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Program (EAP) announced its intention to discontinue enrollment in its program by the end of the month.

NorthBay Infection Prevention Specialist Gregory Warner, D.O., said the change will not impact NorthBay’s use of plasma in treating COVID-19 patients. “We continue to order it through our local blood bank supplier,” he said, adding that the change at the national level caused no interruption in availability of plasma for NorthBay.

And the results so far? Dr. Warner said it is too early to make any definitive conclusions. “Time will tell,” he said. “As we use it on more patients and as more time passes, we’ll have a better sense of its uses and efficacy.”

Amy L. Myers, operations manager with Provider Relations at Mayo Clinic said the program spearheaded by Mayo Clinic “met its primary objectives of providing convalescent plasma throughout the United States and territories, showing that it is safe to give and providing some promising initial efficacy data indicating lower in-hospital mortality in those who received convalescent plasma with high immune activity within the first three days of hospitalization.” Those findings, she said, were part of the consideration the FDA used in deciding to transition from an expanded access program to an emergency-use authorization.


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