RECOVERY trial stops treating patients with convalescent plasma

15 January 2021

The RECOVERY trial has today asked hospitals to stop randomisations of patients into convalescent plasma.

We’re incredibly disappointed to tell you that the interim results do not show evidence that convalescent plasma has an overall benefit on patient outcomes in moderately ill people. 

The trial is continuing to collect follow up information and carry out analysis in case there is evidence of benefit in a subgroup.

Detailed information about the results is available on the RECOVERY trial website. 

Last week, the REMAP-CAP trial last week reported an interim finding of no benefit in intensive care and is continuing to analyse data.A bag of plasma hung on a metal bar

Plasma donors - what happens next?

Following these results, we are temporarily suspending plasma donation for one week (from Friday 15 January).

We will also be suspending booking new appointments.

We are asking donors to please keep appointments booked for the future while we explore all options, and we will update them soon.

Our donor contact teams will be contacting them with the news.

We have built a fantastic collection network and we are now working to redeploy our staff employed on the programme as quickly as possible to support other national efforts to fight the pandemic. We are talking to the Department of Health and Social Care and we’ll update you as soon as possible.

Vaccines will take time to roll out, and may not protect some vulnerable people, so therapeutic treatments will still be needed. We’re also exploring how we can repurpose the newly expanded donation network, to help us collect blood products that are in short supply or will be increasingly needed in the future

Thank you to donors and colleagues

The results from RECOVERY will be hugely disappointing to the tens of thousands of people who have given their time and donations - many of them following severe illness or bereavement – and the hundreds of colleagues who have worked incredibly hard over many months.

People have travelled many miles to donate, taken time away from work, and overcome fears about coming back into a hospital environment. We cannot thank them enough for all they have done.A donor holds a bag of his plasma

We can be incredibly proud of what our colleagues have achieved. NHS Blood and Transplant has helped deliver the world’s largest randomised control trial of convalescent plasma not just for the treatment of COVID-19, but for any viral infection. A key scientific question has been answered. The trial has been very successful in providing a real answer overall. We are waiting for final analysis into all subgroups to conclude.

The global medical community was waiting for this result to inform their policies for the treatment of patients. 

This world-leading trial could only be completed because of the immense professionalism, expertise and hard work of NHSBT colleagues, partners and donors.

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and Joint Chief Investigator for the RECOVERY trial, said: "This is the largest ever trial of convalescent plasma and it was only possible thanks to the generous donation of plasma by recovered patients and the willingness of current patients to contribute to advancing medical care. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude.

"Whilst the overall result is negative, we need to await the full results before we can understand whether convalescent plasma has any role in particular patient subgroups."