The Food and Drug Administration is encouraging people who have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to donate their blood plasma, which can be processed into an antibody product that can treat current patients.

Based on the medical community's experience with other respiratory viruses and data from patients in China, there is reason to believe that the antibodies from recovered patients could reduce the severity of current patients' COVID-19 cases or shorten their duration.

The agency is working with the Mayo Clinic to produced the treatments from plasma collected by the American Red Cross. The effort is being funded by the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The FDA thinks the initiative can create thousands of units of plasma in the coming weeks.

The FDA is also working with industry and government partners on developing hyperimmune globulin products from recovered patients' plasma. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health will run a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of the hyperimmune globulin product against COVID-19.

Nurse shows a woman her plasma

Image source: Getty Images.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:TAK) and Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE:EBS), which sell plasma-based products to treat other diseases, have both announced that they are developing antibody products from the plasma of patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Emergent BioSolutions is also developing a product from plasma taken from horses inoculated with the virus.

Patients who have been fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks can visit the American Red Cross' COVID-19 plasma donation website or contact their local blood donation or plasma collection center to get more information about donating plasma.