Published: 25 April 2020
An NIHR-supported trial will start to investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions improve the speed of recovery and chances of survival for patients with COVID-19.
Convalescent plasma is the antibody-rich plasma of someone who has recovered from a virus. The plasma may contain antibodies that their immune system has produced in fighting the virus - in this case, COVID-19, which can then be transfused into infected patients whose immune systems are struggling to fight the infection.
The REMAP-CAP trial is already underway in more than 50 hospitals across the UK and is part of a suite of nationally-prioritised studies funded by NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Professor Anthony Gordon, Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care and NIHR Research Professor at Imperial College London, and the Chief Investigator for REMAP-CAP, said: “The REMAP-CAP trial has been specifically designed to provide answers about the best treatment options for the most seriously ill with COVID-19.
“It is fully adaptive, meaning that new treatments can be added as we learn more, the sample size isn’t fixed and it keeps recruiting until it finds that a treatment is better, worse, or the same as another. It also “learns” from that data so that patients are more likely to receive those interventions that are performing best.”
There is some limited evidence of patient benefit from the use of convalescent plasma, and these clinical trials are needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of transfusion.
NHS Blood and Transplant has already started collecting and freezing donations from recovered COVID-19 patients for use in trials.
Dr Gail Miflin, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “As well as continuing to collect enough blood throughout this outbreak, we are also heavily involved in the national research response including major trials of this potential treatment.
“We are rapidly building our capability to collect plasma so that we can quickly move into supplying hospitals at scale, should the proposed trial demonstrate patient benefit.”
To find out more about how to donate visit, NHSBT’s website.
Read more about what the NIHR is doing to enable and deliver world-class COVID-19 research, on our response to COVID-19 page.