“Watch What Happens Live” host and executive producer Andy Cohen, who has recovered from coronavirus, said he was not allowed to donate plasma to those currently battling the disease because he is a gay man.
“I recovered from coronavirus and read in the paper and all over the place in New York City that Mount Sinai hospital put out an urgent call for donors who had survived coronavirus. They were looking for plasma for antibody trials. They were using the plasma from people who had recovered from coronavirus to treat people who had coronavirus and to study it,” Cohen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday.
Cohen said he responded to the call and was told that he sounded “like a perfect candidate” to give his plasma. Cohen told CNN that after he expressed his interest in donating, he mentioned to the donation program that he is a gay man. He was then told that he could not give plasma.
Earlier this month, the FDA loosened restrictions on blood donations from gay men amid a blood shortage spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. They now recommend that men who have not had sex with men in three months can give blood. The previous policy banned men who had sex with another man for a full year.
“I understand the concerns about gay men being a higher risk for carrying HIV, but there are HIV tests that can be administrated in 20 minutes. So I could go, I could take an HIV test, they could tell me in 20 minutes, and they then retest your blood from what I understand. They do another HIV test of your blood,” Cohen said.
“There could be sexually promiscuous heterosexuals who’ve had plenty of sex in the last three months who can go in no questions asked and give blood," he said.
“I think that the plasma in my body can absolutely help someone or possibly cure someone.”
According to the FDA, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused “unprecedented challenges” to the national blood supply.
Cohen is not the only celebrity coronavirus survivor to respond to calls for plasma donations by health officials. Last week, actor Tom Hanks said he and Rita Wilson, his wife, had volunteered to donate their blood for coronavirus research.
“We have not only been approached, we have said, ‘Do you want our blood? Can we give plasma?' And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the ‘Hank-ccine,’” the actor told NPR’s podcast “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”