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Effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in severe COVID-19 patients

OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 8 Apr 2020

K Duan, B Liu, C Li, H Zhang, T Yu, J Qu, M Zhou, L Chen, S Meng, Y Hu, C Peng, M Yuan, J Huang, Z Wang, J Yu, X Gao, D Wang, X Yu, L Li, J Zhang, X Wu, B Li, Y Xu, W Chen, Y Peng, Y Hu, L Lin, X Liu, S Huang, Z Zhou, L Zhang, Y Wang, Z Zhang, K Deng, Z Xia, Q Gong, W Zhang, X Zheng, Y Liu, H Yang, D Zhou, D Yu, J Hou, Z Shi, S Chen, Z Chen, X Zhang and X Yang
Currently, there are no approved specific antiviral agents for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In this study, 10 severe patients confirmed by real-time viral RNA test were enrolled prospectively. One dose of 200 mL of 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 d after CP transfusion. The median time from onset of illness to CP transfusion was 16.5 d. 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 d. Several parameters tended to improve as compared to pretransfusion, including increased lymphocyte counts (0.65 × 109/L vs. 0.76 × 109/L) and decreased C-reactive protein (55.98 mg/L vs. 18.13 mg/L). Radiological examinations showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesions within 7 d. 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 well tolerated 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.
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