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Convalescent plasma programme

We are collecting plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help with national clinical trials.

As part of the national research effort against coronavirus, we are leading a programme to collect convalescent blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

There is some evidence globally that COVID-19 patients may benefit from being given convalescent plasma. However, the safety and effectiveness of convalescent plasma transfusions needs to be confirmed by robust clinical trials.

We are recruiting people who have recovered from a confirmed case of coronavirus or had symptoms to donate plasma (convalescent plasma) at our main 23 blood centres. 

This plasma is planned for use in a number of national COVID-19 clinical trials, and if successful, widespread use as a treatment in hospitals.

Alessandro's story

Alessandro Giardini, 46, a Consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, spent seven days on a ventilator in intensive care after falling ill with COVID-19. He was invited to donate convalescent plasma following his recovery. 

I felt great after donating plasma. It feels like we are in one interconnected community, helping each other

Dr. Alessandro Giardini, 46, from Camden, London, donated after recovering from COVID-19

What is convalescent plasma?

Plasma is a clear liquid found in your blood that is used for transfusions. It makes up about half of your blood volume and carries red and white blood cells and platelets around the body.

After a virus, your plasma contains antibodies used to help fight infection.

Convalescent plasma is the antibody-rich plasma of someone who has recovered from a virus, in this case COVID-19.

Three bags of frozen plasma

Why is convalescent plasma important?

Recovered patients’ plasma may contain antibodies that their immune systems have produced in fighting the virus. This plasma can be transfused to patients whose immune systems are struggling to develop their own antibodies.

It is hoped that plasma taken no sooner than 28 days after recovery from COVID-19 will contain a high level of this neutralising antibody.

This convalescent plasma could be given to COVID-19 patients to improve their speed of recovery and chances of survival.

COVID-19 clinical trials 

Two clinical trials have been given approval to determine if plasma donated by patients who have recovered from COVID-19 can help those battling the illness.

Plasma collection has begun through the convalescent plasma programme, and trial transfusions will follow. The transfusions are being done through the REMAP-CAP trial and the RECOVERY trial.

The NHS Blood and Transplant Clinical Trials Unit is working in collaboration with the trial teams to deliver the convalescent plasma part of the trials in the UK.

We are rapidly building our capability to collect plasma so that we can quickly move into supplying hospitals at scale, should the trial demonstrate patient benefit
Dr Gail Miflin

Chief Medical Officer, NHS Blood and Transplant

Plasma donors

We are working with NHS partners to identify potential convalescent plasma donors who have a confirmed positive test result and we will be making direct contact with people.

If you have tested positive for coronavirus or had clear symptoms you can also register your interest in becoming a plasma donor. Find out who can donate plasma

The work is at an early stage and we will be prioritising donors who are best able to help (such as existing blood donors), so there may be a delay before you hear back from us.

It is important that donors have recovered and their body has had time to develop a good antibody response. For these reasons, we are currently collecting plasma no sooner than 28 days after recovery.

If you have had, and recovered from, coronavirus, you may be able to donate. The first step is to let us know you are interested in donating.

You will need to meet some eligibility criteria and be able to travel to one of the plasma collection venues to donate.

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