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First patient, a child, receives convalescent plasma through RECOVERY, the dedicated COVID-19 treatment trial

3 June 2020

The first person to be randomly selected to receive convalescent plasma through RECOVERY has now received a transfusion.

The Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial is a national platform trial testing existing treatments that may help people hospitalised with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The inclusion of convalescent plasma in the RECOVERY trial means that many more people will now start to receive convalescent plasma, which is being collected by NHS Blood and Transplant.

People had already received convalescent plasma through a smaller, more specialised platform trial called REMAP-CAP, which is looking at treatments for pneumonia. The REMAP-CAP trial is not exclusively focused on COVID-19 and only adults in intensive care could receive convalescent plasma.

RECOVERY is open to patients of any age admitted to hospitals with COVID-19. Selected hospitals are currently able to randomise patients to receive convalescent plasma and this will expand out to all hospitals participating in the RECOVERY trial.

The first transfusion of convalescent plasma through RECOVERY took place at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and the largest children’s hospital in the UK.

The patient was a child (aged under 18). In addition to being the first patient of any age transfused with COVID-19 convalescent plasma through RECOVERY, they are also the first child to receive COVID-19 convalescent plasma through the NHBST plasma programme. No more patient details are being released.

RECOVERY is being coordinated by researchers at the University of Oxford, which acts as the sponsor for the research, working with doctors at more than 170 hospitals across the UK. NHS Blood and Transplant’s Clinical Trial Unit is leading on convalescent plasma trials in collaboration with the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP teams. NHSBT is exploring partnerships with further platform trials.

Convalescent plasma is the antibody rich plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19, which can be transfused into people who are struggling to develop their own immune response. Although there is some promising evidence of patient benefit, its effectiveness needs to be tested through robust clinical trials before it can be provided for general use.

Dr Lise Estcourt, head of NHSBT’s Clinical Trials Unit, said: “This is a welcome milestone and we expect the number of people receiving convalescent plasma transfusions within the trials will now grow. We can only provide convalescent plasma thanks to the generosity of people who donate after recovering from the illness. Please help the NHS find out whether this is an effective treatment for COVID-19 by donating plasma.”

Richard Haynes, Professor of Renal Medicine and Clinical Trials in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford and clinical trial lead for the RECOVERY trial said: “Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may help to speed up clearance of the virus from those who are currently suffering from the disease and improve their chances of recovery – but we can’t be certain unless we compare it to no additional treatment beyond the usual standard of care received by all patients. We are very grateful to those who are donating plasma and to the trial participants who will enable us to find out whether plasma is effective.”

Dr Clare Murray, Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician, is the MFT study lead at RMCH. She said: “RMCH is known around the world for its cutting-edge, paediatric clinical research. To be the first hospital in the UK to transfuse a patient in the convalescent plasma arm of the RECOVERY trial is a testament to the expertise and experience of our staff, and the patient care delivered daily.

“I want to thank our patient recruited to this trial, and every person participating in COVID-19 research at MFT, helping to increase our understanding of this disease and the development of potential treatments.”

The Transfusion was carried out by Professor Robert Wynn, Consultant Paediatric Haematologist & Director of Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Programme at RMCH.

NHS Blood and Transplant is now collecting convalescent plasma at all 23 of its donor centres in England. As of Monday morning (June 1), NHSBT had issued 263 units to hospitals. A further 267 units are ready for issue. The remainder are going through the testing and manufacturing process.

Could you help?

The donor plasma with the most antibodies tends to come from people who were more unwell with COVID-19. For this reason, there is a particular need for recovered donations from recovered people who are male, or people aged over 35, or people who were hospitalised. Their plasma is most likely to be able to save lives.

  • NHS Blood and Transplant is appealing for people who have recovered from COVID-19 or the symptoms, and who live near one of its 23 donor centres, to offer to donate their plasma by calling 0300 123 23 23 or completing our online form.
  • For further information on the RECOVERY trial, please visit the trial website