Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) on the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 have been published, ahead of planned clinical trials to commence this month.
SaBTO said it is satisfied that the arrangements currently in place across the UK to ensure the safety of plasma from patients who are recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection are appropriate and that neither pathogen reduction nor bacteria screening of donations is required.
There will be a temporary removal of the donation ban for individuals who have received a blood or blood component transfusion since January 1980 to allow patients convalescent from SARS-CoV-2 infection to donate plasma for treatment. This will be a temporary measure, restricted to donation of plasma from individuals recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection and will be reviewed in six months.
SaBTO concluded the additional variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease transmission risk from these individuals would remain low and be balanced against the considerable benefit to individuals who require convalescent plasma to aid their recovery from COVID-19.
NHS Blood and Transplant and other UK Blood Services are now preparing to collect convalescent plasma from individuals recovered from infection with SARS-CoV-2 for clinical trials. Convalescent plasma will be collected 28 days post-recovery from individuals with a previous laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Trial participants could receive up to two units of plasma from different donors (units would not be pooled). The majority of units will be collected by plasmapheresis and some by whole blood donation although the red cells would not be issued for clinical use.
Blood services anticipate collecting around 100,000 units of convalescent plasma per year for treatment of SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals if it is proven to be a successful treatment.