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UHNM is taking part in national trials which include convalescent plasma as a potential treatment for Coronavirus

Convalescent plasma contains antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and can be given to those who have not yet developed an immune response to the illness. Use of plasma in clinical trials examines whether it can improve patient recovery rates and chance of survival.

The national convalescent plasma programme is being led by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), with results expected in late summer.

Dr Jane Graham, Consultant Haematologist at UHNM, said: “Although there is some evidence of patient benefit from the use of convalescent plasma, the safety and effectiveness of plasma transfusions needs to be confirmed by a robust clinical trial.  By taking part in randomised clinical trials of convalescent plasma, UHNM will help establish whether convalescent plasma should be widely used to treat patients with Covid-19.”

Plasma is one of a number of treatments which patients can be randomised to within existing studies currently in progress at UHNM: ‘REMAP-CAP’, (Randomised, Embedded, Multi-factorial, Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia) where patients are enrolled from within Critical Care, and ‘RECOVERY’, (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) involving patients being treated in ‘red’, Covid-positive, areas. 

Jo Tomlinson, Senior Research Practitioner at UHNM, said: “It’s great to be able to offer this exciting treatment to patients at UHNM. My team’s job is to take care of research processes and recruitment and clinical teams work to deliver treatments as part of clinical care. It’s absolutely crucial that we all come together at this challenging time and we are working very closely with staff on the wards to ensure new treatments are tested and delivered in the most effective way possible.”

Professor Jeremy Kirk, Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network West Midlands said: “One way we may be able to help COVID-19 patients recover more quickly could be to give them plasma from those who have already recovered, but we need to find out for sure so this trial is incredibly important.”

Patients enrolled in the studies may receive up to two convalescent plasma transfusions as part of their treatment whilst in hospital.

NHSBT is urging people to donate their plasma. Dr Imran Hussain, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, (pictured), recently tested positive for Coronavirus antibodies.

Dr Hussain said: “I feel it is important to be involved in finding new ways to help treat COVID-19. My antibody test came back positive and so I registered as a donor. I would encourage others to take part wherever possible.”

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said: “We thank everyone who has donated convalescent plasma and we hope this treatment proves to be of benefit to patients. Plasma donation is a straight-forward process and you could be helping to save lives. You’ll also be playing a part in world-leading research and treatment. Donation takes around 45 minutes and you can get on with your day as normal afterwards. Your body usually replaces the plasma you’ve donated in 24-48 hours and will quickly replace antibodies. People can donate plasma as often as every two weeks.”