Gov. Northam donates COVID-19 convalescent plasma in Richmond

Coronavirus
Northam donating

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam donates COVID-19 convalescent plasma early Friday morning at Emerywood Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Richmond. (Photo: 8News Rachel Keller)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam visited the Emerywood Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Richmond to donate COVID-19 convalescent plasma.

Convalescent plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies that can help treat the most critical patients actively fighting the virus. Governor Northam and his wife, First Lady Pamela Northam, tested positive for COVID-19 in September. They both have since recovered.

As a response to the virus, both the Governor and First Lady have built COVID-19 antibodies.

“That’s why I’m donating the plasma and really want to reach out and help other individuals that may have COVID-19. I would encourage all Virginians to do that,” said Northam.

Northam’s donation took exactly 101 minutes.

Northam donating
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam donates COVID-19 convalescent plasma early Friday morning at Emerywood Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Richmond. (Photo: 8News Rachel Keller)

According to Jonathan Mcnamara with the Virginia Red Cross, the humanitarian organization has seen a 215 percent increase in demand for convalescent plasma. Jennifer Dyke is the Donor Center Coordinator at the Emerywood Red Cross Blood Donation Center. Dyke told 8news, there is a critical need for blood donations.

“With everyone who is going on vacation or traveling during these times, it’s just making the spread worse,” Dyke said.

According to Governor Northam, Virginians have been fighting the virus for 10 months. The governor’s office has been preparing for vaccinations for several months through the Virginia Department of Health. Monday, the state received more than 70,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Northam hopes the Food and Drug Administration will approve the Moderna vaccine today.

According to Northam, Virginia should receive more than 140,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Similar to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Tier 1A group will be the priority. The group includes frontline medical staff and staff and residents at long-term care facilities. Northam said the state will work to get all frontline providers vaccinated before moving on to the staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

Governor Northam told 8News, that the state will go through several phases to distribute the vaccine.

After Tier1A, he plans to focus on those he considers essential workers: first responders, food processors and teachers. He believes children need to return to a normal school setting as soon as possible.

“The sooner we can vaccinate our teachers, I believe the better,” Northam said.

The state had hoped to receive 480,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year. However, the Virginia Department of Health announced that they would be receiving fewer COVID-19 vaccines than originally expected.

The state will now get 370,650 COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of December — this is down from the previously expected 480,000 doses.

“I’ve practiced medicine for about 30 years and I’ve participated in a number of research protocols. I’ve followed the process here and I’ve followed the data. As a doctor, I believe that this vaccination is safe. It’s effective. Pam and I plan to receive the vaccination when our time is there. I would encourage all Virginians to take the vaccination. Let’s put this pandemic behind us,” Northam said. “Hopefully by early to mid-summer we’ll have all Virginians vaccinated.”

Those who are interested in donating convalescent plasma can sign up for a regular donation first to see if there are COVID-19 antibodies. Then, you can sign up to donate COVID-19 convalescent plasma to help those who currently have the virus.

Donors will take a Red Cross RapidPass, which includes general pre-donation screening questions to ensure the safety for your donation.

Potential donors can visit American Red Cross or call 1-(800) 733-2767.

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