05 June 2020

Convalescent plasma transfusion has shown promise in treating severe COVID-19 infection, according to the first trial completed in the USA. The results come as the first patient in a UK trial dedicated to COVID-19 is treated with the therapy.

The US study was carried out at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. 19 out of 25 patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 showed improvements after treatment with convalescent plasma, with no significant side-effects.

The researchers say their results, published in the American Journal of Pathology, demonstrate the safety of convalescent plasma as a treatment.

The doctors say that the improvement in symptoms following convalescent plasma transfusion is similar to that seen in previously published studies of the anti-viral drug remdesivir. However, they acknowledge that a controlled trial is needed to definitively prove its effectiveness.

Researcher Professor James Musser said: “While physician scientists around the world scrambled to test new drugs and treatments against the COVID-19 virus, convalescent serum therapy emerged as potentially one of the most promising strategies.

“With no proven treatments or cures for COVID-19 patients, now was the time in our history to move ahead rapidly.”

Meanwhile in the UK, a child has become first patient in a trial dedicated to COVID-19 to be treated with convalescent plasma.

The treatment, as part of the RECOVERY trial, took place at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The therapy was carried out by Professor Robert Wynn, a consultant paediatric haematologist who leads the hospital’s paediatric bone marrow transplant programme.

Trial leader Professor Richard Haynes, from University of Oxford, said: “Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may help to speed up clearance of the virus from those who are currently suffering from the disease and improve their chances of recovery – but we can’t be certain unless we compare it to no additional treatment beyond the usual standard of care received by all patients.”

Source: Salazar E, Perez KK, Ashraf M, Chen J, Castillo B, Christensen PA, Eubank T, Bernard DW, Eagar TN, Long SW, Subedi S, Olsen RJ, Leveque C, Schwartz MR, Dey M, Chavez-East C, Rogers J, Shehabeldin A, Joseph D, Williams G, Thomas K, Masud F, Talley C, Dlouhy KG, Lopez BV, Hampton C, Lavinder J, Gollihar JD, Maranhao AC, Ippolito GC, Saavedra MO, Cantu CC, Yerramilli P, Pruitt L, Musser JM (2020) “Treatment of COVID-19 Patients with Convalescent Plasma”, Am J Pathol, doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2020.05.014




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