The plasma of Tasmanians who have fully recovered from COVID-19 could help boost the immunity of patients still battling the disease.
On Wednesday federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that biopharmaceutical giant CSL has started development of a potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatment at its Melbourne-based facility.
Coronavirus: All the latest updates on COVID-19 for Tasmania
In collaboration with the project's clinical trials, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has announced it will will for the first time start collecting convalescent plasma from eligible donors.
Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies. Once someone has recovered from COVID-19, the antibodies against the virus remain in their plasma.
With four donor centres in the state, Lifeblood Tasmania spokeswoman Erin Lagoudakis said this was a rare opportunity to contribute to the fight against COVID-19.
"We are looking for people who have fully recovered from a lab confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. So you need to have actually had a positive test result and be fully recovered for 28 days," she said.
"Once they [donor] comes in it's like a regular plasma donation. Then it will get turned into one of two different treatments used in the clinical trials.
"It is a first for us and it's something that we're really well placed and uniquely placed to actually do.
"I can imagine if you have recovered, it's a way for you to really potentially help someone else. It's a way of giving back and contributing to something much bigger."
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Convalescent plasma is being trialled as a treatment for patients suffering from COVID-19 in a number of countries including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.
As of Wednesday, there was 168 confirmed cases in Tasmania who had fully recovered from COVID-19 and been released from isolation.
Ms Lagoudakis said the community had stepped up to calls for people to continue their regular donations amid the pandemic, with alternative flight arrangements made where necessary.
Tasmanian blood and plasma donations are sent to Melbourne to be processed and tested before being sent back out to hospitals wherever they are needed.
"Just while there is reductions in flights, we have moved to collecting plasma only on Fridays and Saturdays," she said.
"But we are still doing blood donations and plasma Monday through Thursday at all four of our [Tasmania] centre."
In addition to the recovery period, donors need to meet Lifeblood's eligibility criteria.
If you have recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and believe you may be eligible to donate, please call 13 14 95.
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