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CMS Seeks Support for Convalescent Serum Therapy

April 6, 2020

The Honorable J.B. Pritzker
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Governor Pritzker:

The Chicago Medical Society (CMS) and its members hope to provide an option during the COVID-19 pandemic that allows all sectors of society to have access to a potentially lifesaving therapy when none is available. That therapy is convalescent serum. Metro Infectious Disease Consultants (MIDC), the largest infectious disease group in the country, based in Chicagoland, has been working with CMS to bring additional treatment avenues to patients. Currently there are many types of therapies being tried, however, they have no clear evidence of success with COVID-19. These therapies include hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, Tocilizumab, statins, and others, including vitamins.

You may have heard that the Mayo Clinic in conjunction with the American Red Cross has launched a nationwide program to obtain convalescent serum from patients. However, this has led to several logistical issues. Large hospital chains such as AMITA, the University of Illinois, and others have contracts with competing blood banking companies, making them ineligible to participate in the Mayo Clinic initiative. In addition, many hospitals in underserved areas and in downstate Illinois are not affiliated with large blood banks and may not have access to convalescent serum.

Another viable option, spearheaded by Takeda and other pharmaceutical companies involves the production of hyper immune globulin. This is an excellent potential treatment, but unfortunately, will take months to produce at a scale needed to save the thousands who are currently in dire straits. Another case of too little, too late.

CMS and MIDC therefore urge you, Governor Pritzker, to use your office to convene a stakeholders meeting and launch a state-wide initiative to allow all Illinoisans access to convalescent serum therapy, not just the patients hospitalized where convalescent serum is available. We have already prepared a written protocol that does not use placebo as a control due to ethical concerns in this fatal pandemic.

Convalescent serum is available immediately while other avenues, such as hyper immune globulin, antivirals, and eventually, vaccines, are still being developed. It is imperative that your office give very sick Illinoisans a fighting chance to survive, and prevent fragmented care and poor outcomes for the disadvantaged.

The Chicago Medical Society stands with you in expanding access and equitable care to all people of Illinois.


A. Jay Chauhan, DO, FAOCO
President, Chicago Medical Society

Tariq Butt, MD
President-Elect, Chicago Medical Society

Vemuri Murthy, MD
Chairman of the Board, Chicago Medical Society

Vishnu Chundi, MD
COVID-19 Taskforce of the Chicago Medical Society
Senior Partner, Metro Infectious Disease Consultant

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