Update on plasma donations needed to complete trials

11 January 2021

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people who’ve had COVID to continue donating plasma to support the conclusion of the trials.

More than 800 people a week are receiving plasma within a trial.

Both trials in the UK have now decided to focus their research on transfusing plasma to patients who have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 but don't yet require intensive care. The UK arm of REMAP-CAP is for intensive care only and the RECOVERY trial is for all patients admitted to hospital.

A donor carer checks a donor's veinDr Gail Miflin, Chief Medical Officer for NHSBT said: "NHSBT is proud to be participating in these world leading trials.

"REMAP-CAP is now in the analysis phase and is exploring whether subgroups of people in intensive care benefit from plasma. The final results are not yet known.

"We urgently need people to continue donating thousands of units of plasma every week for the larger RECOVERY trial, which is using plasma from when people come into hospital.

"Antibodies work by stopping the virus, not by treating the symptoms. The emerging evidence from international studies is that use before intensive care may prove to be more effective.

"We have to complete analysis of both trials to answer these questions. We are continuing to expand our collection network, recruit staff, and recruit donors to enable both trials to report their full analysis.

"Thank you again to our staff, donors and hospitals for their commitment and participation in both trials, which are part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"You could save lives."

Find out how you can donate

How plasma may help

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and Chief Investigator for the RECOVERY trial, said: "We don't yet know if convalescent plasma works as a treatment for COVID patients, but if it does it would have a major impact worldwide.A man lies back in a chair while he donates plasma

"Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies that may help to speed up clearance of the virus from those who are suffering from the disease and improve their chances of recovery, particularly if they are treated before they become severely ill.

"By volunteering to donate plasma you will ensure we complete the study and provide the evidence we need to improve care for COVID patients and save lives."

Next steps for the trials

The international REMAP-CAP trial has paused enrolment for patients in intensive care. Initial analysis of all trial patients requiring intensive care unit (ICU) support showed that convalescent plasma did not improve outcomes in this patient group. There was no evidence of harm.

The analysis period will explore whether plasma benefits subgroups of people in intensive care, such as people who have very low levels of their own antibodies. Enrolment may restart if this evidence of benefit in a subgroup.

The international arm of the trial outside the UK is continuing to recruit hospitalised COVID-19 patients who are moderately unwell and are not requiring intensive care.

RECOVERY has paused recruitment of patients who require invasive mechanical ventilation or extra-corporal membranous oxygenation to plasma treatment. The trial is 'strongly encouraging' the continued recruitment of other patients to plasma treatment. RECOVERY is a platform trial of potential COVID-19 treatments.

More information about the trials