Brian Tse, a BARDA health scientist, told Schmid that his office had passed on Plasma Technologies. With no production facility, Zurlo’s company intended to get COVID-19 patient plasma from blood donation centers that were already under heavy stress because of the pandemic.
“I believe that adding one additional ‘mouth to feed’ to the same source is more likely to induce delays to the projects already underway than it is to solve problems,” Tse wrote.
Despite the doubts, Kadlec didn’t lose interest in Plasma Technologies, according to the emails. “Dr. Kadlec has specifically asked us to take a closer look,” an early July message read.
Over the rest of July, the messages among his staff expressed misgivings about Zurlo’s technology, yet the company remained in play.
Several days later, an HHS contracting officer rejected the idea that Plasma Technologies might partner with one of the plasma companies that the government was already working with.
“The connection is not viable from a contractual standpoint,” the officer wrote in a July 16 email.
Still, a week later, Plasma Technologies had a champion at the Pentagon.
Santorum said he was contacted by Steven Morani, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for materiel readiness. Defense Department officials were drawn to the idea of a U.S.-owned and operated fractionation facility, according to Santorum.