Quicker Blood Transfusions Reduce COVID-19 Disease Mortality

Convalescent plasma transfusion with higher coronavirus antibody levels reduced hospitalize patient mortality
blood transfusion bags

Infusing hospitalized COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from people who have already recovered from this new disease appeared to show an immediate benefit.

According to a nationwide 3-month study published on August 12, 2020, the researchers found that quickly administering convalescent plasma within 3-days had a significant, positive impact on patients with severe cases of COVID-19 disease.

The concept behind convalescent plasma, which dates back centuries, is that blood from patients who have recovered from an infection will be rich with antibodies against it, making their plasma an effective treatment.

This study found that patients receiving expedited blood transfusions realized a 7-day fatality rate of just  8.7 percent, while COVID-19 patients who received a blood transfusion after 4-days had a mortality rate of 11.9 percent.

Similar findings were observed in 30-day mortality (21.6% vs. 26.7%).

Furthermore, the pooled relative risk of mortality among patients transfused with high antibody level plasma units was 0.65 for 7-days, and 0.77 for 30-days, when compared to low antibody level plasma units.

In summary, this study found both 7-day and 30-day mortality adjusted for disease severity and demographic factors were reduced in patients transfused within 3-days of COVID-19 diagnosis, compared to patients transfused 4+ days after diagnosis.

This finding means ‘transfusion of convalescent plasma with higher antibody levels to hospitalized COVID-19 patients significantly reduced mortality compared to transfusions with low antibody levels.

Passive antibody transfer, including convalescent plasma or serum, has previously been used to treat infectious diseases that involve the respiratory system. In today’s context, the COVID-19 disease pandemic has revived interest in the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized patients. 

Although there is substantial interest in the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, the efficacy signals are preliminary. This expanded safety report reveals a decline in mortality which appears contemporary with the more rapid availability of plasma for use, but the authors caution that this alone does not provide any evidence on effectiveness of convalescent plasma for treating COVID-19. 

The adult participants enrolled and transfused in this study were under the purview of the US Convalescent Plasma program between April 4 and July 4, 2020, who were hospitalized with severe or acute COVID-19 respiratory syndrome.

This innovative study was managed by the Mayo Clinic and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which was meant to broaden access to convalescent plasma. 

On June 18, 2020, the Mayo Clinic commented that ‘the U.S. FDA has advised it will continue encouraging the emergency use of convalescent plasma.’

Plasma – the liquid portion of your blood – can be easily replaced by your body. It consists mainly of water, proteins and antibodies that help your body to function. If you have survived COVID-19 disease, then your plasma includes antibodies that could help others fight the virus.

Donating blood plasma is a safe process. Thousands of people safely and painlessly donate every day. Blood plasma donation is performed in a highly regulated environment by professionally trained staff using sterile, one-time-use, disposable materials.

If you had COVID-19, and are interested in donating your plasma, go to The Fight Is in Us.

Mayo Clinic, groups like Vitalant, America’s Blood Centers and many others within the larger commercial and non-commercial blood-banking community are working with physicians to collect and distribute donor plasma to hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19.

CoronavirusToday publishes COVID-19 disease pandemic news.