Doctor gave patients plasma from people with COVID as bogus protection, CA officials say

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Wilfredo Lee/AP

A California doctor is accused of giving his patients plasma donated from people who had COVID-19 as a bogus form of protection against the virus, officials said.

Donald Plance, a doctor in Tujunga, was charged Tuesday, May 17, after he was accused of giving his patients fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and injecting his patients with plasma, the Los Angeles County district attorney said.

“It is disturbing that people, especially medical professionals, continue to use the pandemic as an opportunity to deceive the public,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a news release. “Fake COVID vaccination cards are illegal and endanger our collective health and well-being.”

Between August and November 2021, Plance made his own vaccine cards to give to his patients, officials said. The cards had seals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Health and Human Services, according to the district attorney.

“Plance also allegedly injected his patients with blood plasma from donors who purportedly previously had COVID-19, claiming that the procedure would protect his patients from contracting the virus,” officials said in the news release. “Blood plasma injections are not a federally approved vaccination.”

Plance was charged with 10 counts of making a forged government seal and making a false medical record, officials said. He was also charged with making a drug without a license and possession of a contaminated medical device.

Officials are continuing to investigate the case. Patients who were given the plasma should seek medical guidance, according to the district attorney.

Plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 could have antibodies to the virus that could help keep the person from getting it again, the National Institutes of Health said.

In 2020, plasma from COVID-19 patients was authorized for emergency use for patients who were hospitalized. However, the authorization changed in 2021 to limit the use to only people who have immunosuppressive disease or are receiving immunosuppressive treatments.

The use of plasma is not authorized for preventative use such as a vaccine.

Three COVID-19 vaccines met the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s safety standards and have been authorized for emergency use, according to the CDC.

Since then, the FDA granted full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be used for people older than 16. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was also given full approval for everyone 18 or older.

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