Gallivan and Byrne Call on Governor to Prioritize Antibody Testing For Blood and Plasma Donors

Posted: April 21, 2020 in Health, In the News

Below is a copy of letter, publicly available, sent by Senator Patrick Gallivan and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne addressed to Governor Cuomo and copied to Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker.

The letter requests that as the state begins to build capacity to conduct antibody testing, it consider giving priority to residents who donate blood. This would create an incentive for citizens to donate blood and plasma during a serious shortage. The plasma donation could potentially be even more valuable if the donor has the Covid-19 antibody, allowing their plasma to be used to help treat Covid-19 patients.

Please read the letter below to learn more about the Senator and Assemblyman’s proposal.

Senator Gallivan and Assemblyman Byrne both serve as the ranking members of their respective health committees in the NYS Legislature. 


Copy of the publicly available letter may be viewed below:

April 20, 2020

Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor

NYS Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Governor Cuomo,

It is without question that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has strained our resources and has tested the very fabric of our society.  Throughout this pandemic leaders in government have been pressed to make difficult choices to preserve public health while balancing the importance of our individual liberties and freedom. While there is no perfect answer to the challenges we face, we can all agree that the sooner we can move past this nightmare, the better.  It is with that in mind, we respectfully request you consider the following proposal regarding testing.

In the many briefings provided by you and President Trump, testing has been a key component to our state’s and nation’s response.  Our mitigation techniques have been assisted by testing for positive COVID-19 cases in order to treat and isolate them, thereby reducing the rate of the spread.  In recent weeks, you have rightfully highlighted the need for additional antibody testing to identify members of the population who have since resolved COVID- 19 and appear to be, for the most part, protected from contracting the virus again.  It is clear that building our supply to meet the demand for the latter test will be of the utmost importance as we look to bring people back to work in a more healthy and prosperous environment.

As you are well aware, our state already continues to face a blood shortage with a need for more people to donate blood. This is a general need, but also expands to supporting COVID -19 cases as plasma from donors with the COVID-19 antibody can be used as an experimental treatment for existing COVID-19 patients.  As our state builds its capacity to deliver anti-body testing and decides how to prioritize the limited availability of those tests, we propose to prioritize those willing to donate blood, including plasma.  

There is still a general need for blood and plasma donations, but if a donor does have the COVID-19 antibody their plasma donation will be even more valuable as it may also be used to treat COVID-19 patients.  If the donor does not have the COVID-19 antibody, their donation will still help save the lives of non COVID-19 patients.  In the end, giving donors some form of priority for antibody testing provides a reasonable incentive to donate blood and plasma.  Additionally, it will help give donors more peace of mind and provide a way for our state to prioritize antibody testing as we bring our testing capacity up to scale.

There are no easy answers to handling a crisis of this magnitude; however, we must stay focused on the existing public health emergency as we simultaneously pursue safe, responsible ways to open our state back up for business.  I believe this particular proposal is one way to provide that balance.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this proposal. We cannot allow ourselves to become idle, and we must continue our work together to ensure the future success of this great state we all love and call home.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Kevin M. Byrne                                                Patrick M. Gallivan

Ranking Member                                             Ranking Member

Assembly Health Committee                         Senate Health Committee

Cc:          Dr. Howard Zucker, Department of Health Commissioner