News

First COVID-19-patients receive blood plasma transfusions

April 22, 2020

The first ten patients participating in the ConCoVID study have been treated in Erasmus MC, in collaboration with 15 other centers in the Netherlands. In this study, patients with the coronavirus will receive blood plasma transfusions. The plasma has been donated by patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and have produced antibodies in their blood that attack the virus. This scientific study will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions can have a beneficial effect on the course of the disease. The study is a collaboration with Sanquin and a total of 426 patients will participate.

Antibodies in blood plasma
People who have had the coronavirus usually produce antibodies that over time can be found in the blood plasma. The antibodies of recovered coronavirus patients can help sick patients to eliminate the virus faster through a blood plasma transfusion. 

A recent study by Erasmus MC has shown that monkeys do indeed produce these protective antibodies. Analysis of the plasma of the first 30 donors showed that the majority of them produced these antibodies two weeks after being sick. 

A number of small studies have also recently reported on the first people being treated with plasma. These studies demonstrate that the treatment appears to be safe, but the small scale of these trials and the lack of a control group mean that conclusions cannot yet be drawn about it’s efficacy. 

Large-scale study with control group
In the coming months, Erasmus MC will conduct a large-scale study with a total of 426 patients participating, including a control group. Half of these patients will receive blood plasma transfusions, the other half, the control group, will receive the standard treatment given to patients with the coronavirus. This will enable researchers to measure the effect and determine whether blood plasma transfusions with antibodies could improve COVID-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival. 

Collaboration 
The study is a collaboration between Erasmus MC and Sanquin. Since their call for recovered patients in March, more than 3,000 people have signed up to donate plasma. Erasmus MC preselects the patients and Sanquin collects the blood plasma. You can still register as a donor by clicking here.

In addition to Erasmus MC, a few other hospitals (Maasstad, Zorgsaam) have also started this week and 17 others are to follow. Every effort is being made to get all 426 patients to participate as soon as possible so that an answer to the main research question can hopefully be obtained soon: Are plasma transfusions a good treatment for COVID-19 patients? 

Financial support

This is desperately needed as it has been set up in barely 4 weeks without a grant. Your donation can help save lives. You can donate via www.erasmusmcfoundation.nl by selecting Dr. Rijnders' plasma study.
prof. Charles Boucher plasmadonor 700x450
Virologist Charles Boucher donate blood plasma.