COVID-19 and convalescent plasma

We have been proud to play a part in national Health Canada approved clinical trials – CONCOR-1, CONCOR-Kids, and REMAP-CAP – testing if COVID-19 convalescent plasma could be a safe and effective treatment option for patients with the virus.

The clinical trials that Canadian Blood Services has supported through convalescent plasma collection have collected the data needed to complete their research and have stopped enrolling patients. As such, there is no longer a need to collect convalescent plasma to support these clinical trials.

The CONCOR-Donor study is another study that is actively recruiting participants. Learn more about the CONCOR-Donor study.

Questions and answers: About the clinical trials

What is convalescent plasma?

We are proud to be part Health Canada approved clinical trials to test the effectiveness of COVID-19 convalescent plasma as a possible treatment option for patients with the virus. We announced our involvement in April 2020.

Scientists from our Centre for Innovation are part of a group of clinical investigators and researchers that is conducting the clinical trials in more than 50 hospitals across the country.

With Health Canada’s approval, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to Canadian physicians caring for patients with the virus in the context of the clinical trials. As the national blood operator, we have the expertise and the infrastructure necessary to safely collect, prepare and distribute convalescent plasma for use in trials of this size and scope.

Well-designed clinical trials, like the ones we are involved with, will help provide the information necessary to prove whether convalescent plasma is an effective treatment. Canada’s clinical trials will also provide Canadian data to a growing body of evidence indicating that COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a safe product. This data will be an important contribution to research on a global scale that could help patients in Canada and around the world.

What is Canadian Blood Services’ role?

We are proud to have supported Health Canada approved clinical trials testing the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 convalescent plasma as a possible treatment option for patients with the virus. We announced our involvement in April 2020.

Scientists from our Centre for Innovation are part of a group of clinical investigators, and over 70 hospitals, that conducted the clinical trials.

With Health Canada’s approval of our clinical trial application, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec were responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to Canadian physicians caring for patients with the virus in the context of the clinical trials. As the national blood operator, we have the expertise and the infrastructure necessary to safely collect, prepare and distribute convalescent plasma for use in trials of this size and scope.

Well-designed clinical trials, like the ones we were involved with, will help provide the information necessary to prove whether convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment. It will be an important contribution to research on a global scale that could help patients in Canada and around the world.

Why have you stopped collecting convalescent plasma?

Canadian Blood Services has been responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to Canadian physicians caring for patients with COVID-19 in the context of Health Canada approved clinical trials. The Canadian clinical trials are led by scientists who are external to Canadian Blood Services. These scientists – or investigators – are the lead in analyzing the data they collect through the trial, to determine the outcomes of the trial.

The clinical trial investigators have confirmed that they have collected the data that they needed to complete their research. As such, there is no longer a need to collect convalescent plasma to support these clinical trials. We may revisit collecting convalescent plasma again in the future should another Health Canada approved clinical trial require convalescent plasma for their study.

When did the trials begin?

With Health Canada’s approval, we began booking appointments for convalescent plasma donors at the end of April 2020. The first clinical trial has also been underway since April. We suspended convalescent plasma collection at the beginning of February 2021, when the clinical trial investigators confirmed that they have collected the data needed to complete their research.

What do you hope to achieve with the trials?

Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove whether COVID-19 convalescent plasma is an effective treatment for patients with the virus.

Well-designed clinical trials, like the ones Canadian Blood Services is participating in, will help provide the information necessary to prove whether convalescent plasma is an effective treatment. The results from the clinical trials will inform future decisions on the wider availability of convalescent plasma. It will be an important contribution to research on a global scale that could help patients in Canada and around the world.

When will the results from the trials be available?

The trial teams are continuing the process of completing the follow-up data for all enrolled patients. The final study results will be released once the complete dataset has been analyzed. It will likely take several months before results are published.

Questions and answers: Donors

I’ve recovered from COVID-19 and want to help. How can I donate for the trials?

The clinical trials Canadian Blood Services has been supporting have collected the data needed to complete their research. As such, there is no longer a need to collect convalescent plasma to support these trials.  However, there is an ongoing study of donors being conducted to study the immune response to the virus

Convalescent plasma donors can continue to help patients in Canada. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 are eligible to donate blood, plasma, and platelets. Learn more about donor eligibility.

I donated convalescent plasma. Is there a way to find out about my antibody levels?

All convalescent plasma donors were notified whether their antibody results met the requirements for continued convalescent plasma donation, as part of the clinical trials. Because COVID-19 is a new virus, much is still unknown about how our immune systems respond to it. There are many different tests for COVID antibodies and ours only measures a subset of the antibodies that a person has.As well, while our testing tells us the strength of antibodies you had on the day of your donation, the strength of your antibodies will change over time. It is unknown how long the human immune system continues to make antibodies against COVID-19.

 

Questions and answers: Patients

How were patients be involved in the trials?

Patient participation in the national clinical trials was determined by the treating physician in consultation with the patient and according to the clinical trial protocol.

Is convalescent plasma safe for patients?

There is a growing amount of peer-reviewed published literature from well-designed studies demonstrating that COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a safe product for patients. For example, a study of 5,000 patients in the U.S. showed no increased side effects after the patients received convalescent plasma transfusions and a large study (RECOVERY) conducted in the UK showed no concerns about safety of COVID-10 convalescent plasma