Patients (n = 25) with severe and/or life-threatening COVID-19 disease were enrolled at the Houston Methodist hospitals from March 28 – April 14, 2020. Patients were transfused with convalescent plasma obtained from donors with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and had recovered.
The primary study outcome was safety, and the secondary outcome was clinical status at day 14 post-transfusion. Clinical improvement was assessed based on a modified World Health Organization 6-point ordinal scale and laboratory parameters.
Viral genome sequencing was performed on donor and recipient strains. At day 7 post-transfusion with convalescent plasma, nine patients had at least a 1-point improvement in clinical scale, and seven of those were discharged.
By day 14 post-transfusion, 19 (76%) patients had at least a 1-point improvement in clinical status and 11 were discharged. No adverse events as a result of plasma transfusion were observed.
Whole genome sequencing data did not identify a strain genotype-disease severity correlation. The data indicate that administration of convalescent plasma is a safe treatment option for those with severe COVID-19 disease.
The study, published in the American Journal of Pathology, found no adverse side effects caused by the plasma transfusion. According to the researchers, patient outcomes following plasma therapy were very similar to recently-published results of people treated on the antiviral drug remdesivir.