A patient at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), the largest children’s hospital in the UK, was the first in the UK to receive a convalescent plasma transfusion, after being randomly selected through the RECOVERY COVID-19 research study.
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.
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.
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 transfusion was carried out at RMCH, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), by Professor Rob Wynn, Consultant Paediatric Haematologist & Director of Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Programme at RMCH.
Dr Clare Murray (right), Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician, is the MFT study lead at RMCH, as well as Asthma Programme Associate Lead for the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). 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 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.
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.
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.”
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.