Update on plasma donations needed to complete trials

Welsh Blood Service is still encouraging males who have been contacted by the Service, or patients who have recently been hospitalised as a result COVID-19, to continue donating plasma to support the conclusion of the trials.

REMAP-CAP and RECOVERY trials have both now decided to focus their research on transfusing plasma into patients who have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 but do not yet require intensive care.

Dr Janet Birchall, Medical Director for the Welsh Blood Service said:

“Welsh Blood Service is proud to be participating in these world leading trials.

“REMAP-CAP is now in the analysis phase and is exploring whether subgroups of people in intensive care benefit from plasma. The final results are not yet known.

“We still urgently need males who have recovered from COVID-19, particularly those who have been hospitalised themselves, to continue donating plasma for the larger RECOVERY trial.

“Antibodies may work by stopping the virus, not by treating the symptoms. The emerging evidence from international studies is that use before intensive care may prove to be more effective.

“We have to complete analysis of both trials to answer these questions. We are continuing to call on donors to enable the RECOVERY trial to complete enrolment and report fully.

“Thank you again to our staff, donors and hospitals for their commitment and participation in both trials, which are part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You could save lives.”

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and Chief Investigator for the RECOVERY trial, said:

“We don’t yet know if convalescent plasma works as a treatment for COVID but if it does it would have a major impact worldwide. The UK is leading the world’s largest trial of convalescent plasma and we are close to getting an answer.

“By volunteering to donate plasma you will ensure we complete the study and provide the evidence we need to improve care for COVID patients and save lives.”

The international REMAP-CAP trial has paused enrolment for patients in intensive care. Initial analysis of all trial patients requiring intensive care unit (ICU) support showed that convalescent plasma did not improve outcomes in this patient group. There was no evidence of harm.

The analysis period will explore whether plasma benefits subgroups of people in intensive care, such as people who have very low levels of their own antibodies. Enrolment may restart if there is evidence of benefit in a subgroup. The international arm of the trial outside the UK is continuing to recruit hospitalised COVID-19 patients who are moderately unwell and are not requiring intensive care.

RECOVERY has paused recruitment of patients who require invasive mechanical ventilation or extra-corporal membranous oxygenation to plasma treatment. The trial is ‘strongly encouraging’ the continued recruitment of other patients to plasma treatment. RECOVERY is a platform trial of potential COVID-19 treatments.