CONVALESCENT plasma transfusion for the treatment of severe COVID-19 is currently being trialled in the UK and a trial in the USA has recently been completed, with promising results.
In the study from the USA, which took place at the Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, 25 patients with severe of life-threatening COVID-19 were treated with convalescent plasma, which is antibody-rich plasma obtained from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Of these patients, 19 showed improvements after treatment with no significant side-effects, demonstrating the safety of the treatment. A controlled trial is needed to definitively prove its effectiveness, but the initial results show that the improvement in symptoms following convalescent plasma transfusion is similar to that observed with the antiviral drug remdesivir.
Researcher Prof James Musser, Houston Methodist Hospital, commented: “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.”
In the UK RECOVERY trial, a child recently received convalescent plasma transfusion treatment at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester, UK, becoming the first patient in the COVID-19-dedicated trial.
Prof Richard Haynes, of the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK and trial leader for the RECOVERY trial, commented: “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.”