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COVID-19 and the Threat to Immunoglobulin Availability

July 29, 2020

A Message from John G. Boyle, President & CEO

A little over a year ago, a major daily newspaper published an article critical of the plasma industry. It was one of several pieces published in media outlets throughout the United States in recent years that unfairly stigmatized plasma donors. The tone and tenor of the article seemed to discourage plasma donations at a time when we all know the world needs more plasma to meet the growing demand for immunoglobulin (Ig) products, which are lifesaving, lifelong treatments for people with PI, specifically those who have antibody deficiencies.

I responded to the article on behalf of IDF with a letter to the editor that was published in May 2019. In that letter, I warned that “we are one plasma-based product recall or another major interruption in production away from a full-blown crisis”. 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the collection of source plasma donations in such a way that a global immunoglobulin shortage is now a possibility.

IDF has been reaching out globally to gain more specific information about the degree to which COVID-19 has collectively impacted source plasma donations and how that may translate to Ig availability in the future. While we don’t have specifics to share at this time, we are very concerned about what this unfolding situation will mean for those who use Ig or other plasma-derived therapies.

Even though solid data is lacking, we wanted to make you aware of the issue all the same. We’re committed to empowering you with knowledge. We’re hearing hoofbeats… and although we don’t know whether it’s a horse or a zebra that’s coming, we want everyone to know that both are possible.

While we know this is a worrisome topic, we ask that you hold tight and be patient. Right now IDF is gathering information. As soon as we know more, we’ll share what we know... and how we believe you can help make an impact.

In terms of the action you can take right now, what I’d suggest is that you familiarize yourself with where plasma donations centers are and to encourage people you know to become regular plasma donors if there’s a center anywhere near them. The good news is new donation centers are opening every month in an effort to increase supply. In fact, one just opened near me the other day. 

We don’t know exactly which way this situation will go, but one way or the other - inspiring more people to donate plasma will be key. My letter to the editor from a year ago touted plasma donors as the heroes that they are, saving countless lives each year. With what we’re facing now, we’re going to need more and more plasma heroes to help ensure that the therapies that many of us need to thrive or survive do not end up in short supply.


If you have information about this issue to share based on what you are observing or if you have feedback or specific questions, please use Ask IDF to share information with us.

For information about Ig products, go to www.primaryimmune.org/ig.


This content should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. In all cases, patients and caregivers should consult their healthcare providers. Each patient’s condition and treatment is unique. The benefits and risks of any treatment should be discussed with the patient’s provider.