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Vaccine could be trouble for blood banks making plasma treatments

PHOTO: Debris from a violent explosion in downtown Nashville on Christmas day.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo (WSIL) -- Blood banks and other health entities collecting convalescent plasma donations from former COVID-19 suffers are in a race against the clock as more vaccines are distributed impacting their business.

Once people are vaccinated, they cannot donate plasma.

"The challenge we have is we have an emergency need of convalescent plasma we need those people who have recovered from COVID-19 to come and donate if they're eligible. We need that plasma so we can get it to the hospital. We need more. The demand is far outpacing the supply," Joe Zydlo, American Red Cross said.

During the surge nearly 1 in four patients hospitalized with COVID-19 need a transfusion convalescent plasma.

Whether donors choose to give it at donation centers or individual blood drives Zydlo said the Red Cross will take it and they're running out of time.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said as of Tuesday night, statewide they've administered 100,991 vaccines, which is more than any other state. Authorities hope to vaccine 200 million people by next summer.

"It's going to take time to get everyone vaccinated. Some people my not get vaccinated," Zydlo said.

Right now the FDA does not allow the plasma of those vaccinated to be used. The reason why is because the vaccine causes spike antibodies, and for convalescent plasma, they need nucleocapsid antibodies.

"That will change it. that will change it completely and hopefully that will be the case. That will present more challenges for us," Zydlo said. "We hope people will still want to come and donate blood. Which they've done through this whole pandemic."

And while the changing mission is a challenge Zydlo said he'd prefer it this way.

"If people get vaccinated and everybody is healthier that's the best case scenario. That's a challenge we'll face and we'll be glad to face that," Zydlo said.

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