27 April 2020

Up to 10,000 units of blood plasma a week could be collected in the UK if it proves a successful therapy for the COVID-19, it has been announced.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has recruited 150 additional staff to support the scaling up of collection as it begins its trial of convalescent plasma therapy.

The UK trial is to be led at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, and at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, it was announced by the Department of Health & Social Care at last weekend. A small Chinese study in Shanghai, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month, reported striking results from the treatment.

An anaesthetist in Manchester has been one of the first donors to the programme after recovering from infection. Dr Rhys Clayton, who is back at work at the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I was one of the early coronavirus cases. At five days I started to feel better, but as time went on I was getting blue lips and by day 12 I started feeling short of breath. I had to come into A&E.

“I donated after recovering and it was straightforward. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next. It’s interesting to feel you are at the cutting edge of something to help."

NHSBT has said that patients will not be approached to donate until 28 days after recovery to ensure they have enough time to develop antibodies.

Investigator Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, from King's College London, said: “As a new disease, there are no proven drugs to treat critically ill patients with COVID-19. Providing critically ill patients with plasma from patients who have recovered (referred to as convalescent plasma) could improve their chances of recovery.

“I am proud to be one of the principal investigators in the NHSBT-led clinical trial testing this research idea.”

Professor David Menon, from University of Cambridge, added: “This ground-breaking trial, conducted by NHSBT, will test whether convalescent plasma treatment can save lives and shorten intensive care unit stays. This could benefit patients and help protect the NHS. If the trial has positive results, subsequent studies could test if convalescent plasma can prevent the need for intensive care unit admission altogether or increase immunity in the most vulnerable individuals in the community.”


Source: NHS Blood and Transplant



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