Convalescent plasma donations for COVID-19 restarting
NHS Blood and Transplant is restarting COVID convalescent plasma donations, after discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care.
Donations were paused on Friday following interim analysis from the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials which showed no overall benefit for people in hospital care.
Both trials are still analysing whether plasma could benefit subgroups of patients, such as people with low natural antibody levels.
International trials are also testing if plasma helps people when it's used much earlier in the disease, before people get to hospital. Early use could help some of the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those with weak immune systems. There’s already some trial evidence showing this could work (1). A similar UK trial is being discussed.
Restarting collection as soon as possible will ensure as much plasma as possible is potentially available should there be proven benefit in hospitalised subgroups or when used before hospitalisation.
NHS Blood and Transplant is seeking donations from people who’ve had COVID at its 43 donor centres. Donors will be booked into appointments again from today (Wednesday) and donations will restart from Saturday. More than 60,000 donations have been taken so far. Around 14,000 of these had high enough antibody levels for use.
People can register as donors using our online form.
Dr Gail Miflin, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Convalescent plasma is a precious resource and the whole world is now focusing on early treatment, before organ damage and hospitalisation.
“Antibodies stop the virus, they don’t treat the damage it does. There is emerging international evidence that early use will be effective, within hours or days of diagnosis, rather than when the virus has already done a lot of damage. This could particularly help the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those with weakened immune systems who do not respond well to vaccines. This includes more than a million people with blood cancers, organ transplants, chronic diseases and more.
“Additionally, the more detailed analysis still being carried out by the REMAP-CAP and RECOVERY trials may show plasma works for some hospitalised patients, such as those with naturally low antibody levels.
“Given the ongoing trials and ongoing analysis, NHSBT, the DHSC and the Therapeutics Taskforce have agreed to keep collecting stocks of convalescent plasma. To be ready for the future, the time to collect is now.
“We will continue to need the incredible support of our staff, partners and donors, who have enabled this amazing donation network to operate.”
Convalescent plasma is the antibody rich plasma of people who have recovered from the coronavirus.
If you’ve had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms, you can volunteer to donate plasma.
- An Argentinian study found use within 72 hours of symptom onset, before hospital admission, reduced the occurrence of severe COVID by about 50%. This was a randomised control trial. Read the full paper.