Community non-profit blood center, Blood Assurance, is collecting plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 donors to be distributed to sites involved in the Passive Immunity Trial of the Nation (PassItON) study. The study will test whether infusions of plasma collected from COVID-19 survivors can help other hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The plasma contains antibodies that fight against the virus that causes COVID-19.
This study comes on the heels of an announcement made yesterday by President Trump and the FDA approving the investigational therapy for emergency use nationwide. Usage and need are expected to increase exponentially and the order allows the treatment to be more quickly obtained by blood centers and hospitals across the nation.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center was awarded a $34-million grant by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to conduct the study of convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19. VUMC has partnered with Blood Assurance and is relying on them to collect and distribute this plasma to participating medical centers.
“As doctors, we continue to lack adequate therapies to treat patients with COVID-19,” said Dr. Todd Rice, associate professor of medicine and director of VUMC’s Medical Intensive Care Unit. “Convalescent plasma could offer promise, but we must answer this question rigorously in a randomized trial, especially for the sickest patients at increased risk of mortality.”
Officials said, "Blood Assurance has been on the forefront of convalescent plasma collection and has been collecting and distributing the treatment since April as part of another ongoing clinical trial with the Mayo Clinic. To date there have been only two randomized, controlled clinical trials and both were ended early without definitive results."
People who have recovered from COVID-19 and agree to participate in the study can make up to four plasma donations. Each plasma sample will be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies. Only those samples with relatively high amounts of neutralizing antibodies will be used in the study.
Hospitalized COVID-19 patients randomly will be given either infusions of plasma containing anti-SARS-CoV-2-antibodies or “placebo” infusions to determine what impact, if any, the antibodies have on the course of their illness.
"When completed, this study would provide the first conclusive results in a trial using a controlled group," officials said. "Results will be shared with patients and doctors around the country upon the study’s completion.
"Blood Assurance needs convalescent plasma donors, especially now that usage is expected to increase."
People interested in donating are encouraged to visit bloodassurance.org/covidplasma. Donors will need to be able to pass all regular blood donation requirements, which can be found at bloodassurance.org.