Convalescent Plasma Doesn’t Help Worst COVID-19 Patients, Study Finds
COVID-19 patients on intensive care support did not see improvement when given convalescent plasma, according to preliminary findings from the UK arm of a global trial.
Convalescent plasma had only a “limited effect” on the most severe COVID-19 patients, the Imperial College London — which is leading the UK arm of the international, multi-treatment study known as the Randomized, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) — said Monday.
The preliminary findings, which have not yet been published, showed that the treatment did not harm participants when administered but also did not help them improve, prompting investigators to pause enrollment of COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
The analysis, which was based on 912 severely ill participants, found that the treatment had a very low probability of reducing death or of reducing days on intensive care support by more than 20 percent.
“Although it is disappointing that all critically ill patients don’t appear to gain any benefit, this is still vitally important to know,” said Anthony Gordon, UK chief investigator of the REMAP-CAP trial. “Convalescent plasma is a precious resource, and we can now continue to focus on identifying exactly which patients might benefit the most from treatment — maybe people earlier in their illness or those with weak immune systems.”
The researchers noted that a more complete analysis will be conducted that involves more than 4,000 severely ill patients recruited in the trial. “These findings … may change when all the analyses have been completed,” the investigators said.
The trial will continue recruiting hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are moderately sick and who don’t require intensive care in order to see if they benefit from the convalescent plasma treatment.
The findings, which provide more evidence that the treatment may not be viable for severely ill patients, comes after a small Argentinian trial found that plasma helped prevent progression to severe COVID-19 when given early to infected patients (DID, Jan. 8). — James Miessler