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COVID-19 and convalescent plasma

How you may be able to help others with the virus.

We are proud to be part of national clinical trials to test if COVID-19 convalescent plasma could be a safe and effective treatment option for patients with the virus.

Help fight COVID-19, register to donate convalescent plasma

Make a financial gift in support of research

 

Who can donate?

Who can donate?


To participate as a convalescent plasma donor in the trials, you must meet the current plasma donor eligibility criteria and you must be:

  1. Previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test;
  2. Younger than 67 years old; and
  3. Fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days.

Please note: a history of donating blood is not required

Where can I donate?

Where can I donate?


We are currently seeking potential convalescent plasma donors who live in the following cities:  

  • Calgary
  • Charlottetown
  • Edmonton
  • Halifax
  • Hamilton
  • London
  • Ottawa
  • Regina
  • Saint John
  • Saskatoon
  • St. John’s
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg

Please note: appointments for convalescent plasma donors are being booked by phone through the donor qualification process that is specific to the clinical trials.

How can I help?

How can I help?


If you meet the convalescent plasma donor requirements, we encourage you to join our registry of potential donors by completing the form below.

Convalescent plasma donors must live within reasonable driving distance from our donor centres. If you live in Quebec, we encourage you to contact Héma-Québec.

We are contacting registered donors now. Only those who may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma will be contacted.

Please note: we can only welcome donors with confirmed appointments at this time.

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 be part Health Canada approved clinical trials to test 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, including 11 research teams and more than 50 hospitals, that is conducting the clinical trials.

With Health Canada’s approval of our clinical trial application, 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 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.

Will Canadian Blood Services collect convalescent plasma in its donor centres?

Yes, COVID-19 convalescent plasma is now being collected at some of our fixed donor centres. We can collect convalescent plasma at our donor centres across Canada that have the capability to collect plasma and platelet donations through a process called apheresis. These donor centres are located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Saint John, Charlottetown and St. John’s.

We are leveraging the existing skills and experience of our team members who are involved in collecting plasma donations every day.

Is collecting convalescent plasma in Canadian Blood Services’ donor centres safe?

As the national blood operator, Canadian Blood Services has the expertise and the infrastructure necessary to safely collect, prepare and distribute convalescent plasma for use in clinical trials.

To ensure safety during the pandemic, we will only collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma from donors who have fully recovered from the virus.

To ensure transfusion medicine safety, convalescent plasma donors must also meet Canada’s current plasma donor eligibility criteria.

We will continue working with public health to protect all employees, volunteers and donors.

When will the trials begin?

With Health Canada’s approval, we started to book appointments for convalescent plasma donors at the end of April 2020. The first clinical trial has also been underway since April.

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.

If it works, will Canadian Blood Services collect convalescent plasma long term?

The clinical trials need to be completed first, so we have evidence that this therapy actually works. Internationally, researchers are investigating other available options or trying to develop new ones to treat, prevent or cure COVID-19. At this time, it is too early to say what could happen or what our role may be longer term.

Questions and answers: Donors

How will donors be recruited to participate in the trials?

We have created an online registry where anyone who is interested in participating in the Health Canada approved clinical trials can sign up as a potential convalescent plasma donor. We are contacting registrants, as needed. Please note: only those who may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma will be contacted.

 

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

In addition to meeting Canada’s plasma donor eligibility criteria, convalescent plasma donors will also need to meet additional requirements specific to our convalescent plasma collection program.

To participate, convalescent plasma donors must be:

  • Younger than 67 years old;
  • Previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test; and
  • Fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days.

 

I am already a plasma donor. Can I participate in the trials?

Thank you! Your donations are helping patients in Canada who need plasma products.

In terms of the current national clinical trials, we have created an online registry where anyone who is interested in participating can sign up as a potential convalescent plasma donor.

We are contacting registrants, as needed. Please note: only those who may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma will be contacted.

Your donations matter. If you are not contacted to participate in the trials, we urge you to continue participating in our national plasma donation program as the need for blood and plasma is constant.

 

What are the eligibility criteria for convalescent plasma donors?

In addition to meeting Canada’s plasma donor eligibility criteria, convalescent plasma donors will also need to meet additional requirements specific to our convalescent plasma collection program.

To participate, convalescent plasma donors must be:

  • Younger than 67 years old;
  • Previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test; and
  • Fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days
Why does a convalescent plasma donor need to be younger than 67?

This age limit is consistent with current plasma donor eligibility criteria in Canada for first-time plasma donors who have not donated blood before.

Can someone who hasn’t had COVID-19 still donate?

Not for these clinical trials. Convalescent plasma is plasma that is collected from someone who has recovered from a virus, which means they have developed the antibodies necessary to fight off that virus. These antibodies could be the key ingredient for a treatment to help others with the same virus. This is why only people who have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 and therefore have developed the antibodies needed to fight it, can donate as part of the clinical trials.

Why does a convalescent plasma donor need to be symptom free for 28 days?

While the recovery period for COVID-19 is 14 days, COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors tend to have higher levels of neutralizing antibodies for the virus after 28 days of being symptom free than they do at 14 days because their immune systems have had enough time to transition from the stage of infection to a steady state of immunity. These neutralizing antibodies could be the key ingredient for an effective treatment for COVID-19.

How is Canadian Blood Services determining that a convalescent plasma donor is fully recovered?

Every convalescent plasma donor will be pre-screened by telephone to determine their eligibility before their appointment to donate is booked.

To donate, a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor must be symptom free for at least 28 days. Evidence shows that convalescent plasma donors yield higher levels of antibodies for the virus after 28 days.

As information about the virus is evolving rapidly, we closely monitor international developments to make sure our processes and eligibility criteria align with the best evidence available to protect employees, donors and volunteers.

Questions and answers: Patients

How will patients be involved in the trials?

Patient participation in the national clinical trials is being 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. 

My loved one has COVID-19 and is in intensive care. How do we get access to convalescent plasma for them now?

If you, or someone you know, is hospitalized with COVID-19, please ask your doctor for more information. You can also contact one of the Canadian research teams at info@concor1.ca.

Questions and answers: Hospitals

How will Canadian Blood Services supply convalescent plasma to hospitals and physicians for the clinical trials?

We are working with our hospital partners and are leveraging our existing network and procedures for distributing blood and blood products to supply convalescent plasma to hospitals.

Currently, there is not enough data to prove whether convalescent plasma is an effective treatment for patients with the virus, which is why it is initially being supplied to physicians for use in the context of clinical trials under the authorization of Health Canada