The feasibility of convalescent plasma therapy in severe COVID-19 patients: a pilot study
Posted 23 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.16.20036145
Posted 23 Mar 2020
Currently, there are no approved specific antiviral agents for 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In this study, ten severe patients confirmed by real-time viral RNA test were enrolled prospectively. One dose of 200 mL convalescent plasma (CP) derived from recently recovered donors with the neutralizing antibody titers above 1:640 was transfused to the patients as an addition to maximal supportive care and antiviral agents. The primary endpoint was the safety of CP transfusion. The second endpoints were the improvement of clinical symptoms and laboratory parameters within 3 days after CP transfusion. The median time from onset of illness to CP transfusion was 16.5 days. After CP transfusion, the level of neutralizing antibody increased rapidly up to 1:640 in five cases, while that of the other four cases maintained at a high level (1:640). The clinical symptoms were significantly improved along with increase of oxyhemoglobin saturation within 3 days. Several parameters tended to improve as compared to pre-transfusion, including increased lymphocyte counts (0.65x109/L vs. 0.76x109/L) and decreased C-reactive protein (55.98 mg/L vs. 18.13 mg/L). Radiological examinations showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesionswithin 7 days. The viral load was undetectable after transfusion in seven patients who had previous viremia. No severe adverse effects were observed. This study showed CP therapy was welltolerated and could potentially improve the clinical outcomes through neutralizing viremia in severe COVID-19 cases. The optimal dose and time point, as well as the clinical benefit of CP therapy, needs further investigation in larger well-controlled trials. Significance StatementCOVID-19 is currently a big threat to global health. However, no specific antiviral agents are available for its treatment. In this work, we explored the feasibility of convalescent plasma (CP) transfusion to rescue severe patients. The results from 10 severe adult cases showed that one dose (200 mL) of CP was welltolerated and could significantly increase or maintain the neutralizing antibodies at a high level, leading to disappearance of viremia in 7 days. Meanwhile, clinical symptoms and paraclinical criteria rapidly improved within 3 days. Radiological examination showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesions within 7 days. These results indicate that CP can serve as a promising rescue option for severe COVID-19 while the randomized trial is warranted.
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