Transfusion of antibody-rich plasma aims to boost patients’ survival
NHS Blood and Transplant has supplied the first units of convalescent plasma to hospitals and the first transfusions have taken place.
Convalescent plasma is the antibody rich plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19, which can be given to people who are struggling to develop an immune response to overcome the illness.
The supply of the plasma is part of a trial to investigate whether the transfusions could improve a COVID-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival. So far, 14 units have been supplied to Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. The effectiveness of the treatment will not be known until the trial finishes. In parallel to the trial, NHSBT is rapidly building up capacity to collect plasma so that it can deliver at a large scale, if transfusions are shown to help patients. Although there is some evidence of patient benefit from the use of convalescent plasma, the safety and effectiveness of convalescent plasma transfusions needs to be confirmed by a robust clinical trial. NHSBT is primarily contacting potential convalescent plasma donors directly, using recovered patient data supplied through the wider NHS. It is important that potential donors have recovered and their body has had time to develop a good antibody response. For these reasons, it is collecting plasma no sooner than 28 days after recovery.