Major NHS trial using coronavirus survivors’ blood to treat other patients with their antibodies receives enough donations to help 500 people
- Some 500 survivors have now donated their blood as part of the NHS scheme
- It is hoped coronavirus patients will be able to pass their antibodies to others
- Fourteen NHS hospitals are already taking part in the trial which is set to grow
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A major trial using coronavirus survivors’ blood to treat other patients has now received enough donations to help 500 people.
The trial, run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), sees those who have recovered from Covid-19 donate their antibody-rich blood to be given to other patients.
Some 500 survivors have now donated their blood – enough to treat the same number of patients newly arrived in hospital with the virus.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) photos show former patients making the donation in a process known as plasmapheresis. Pictured: Laura Martin at Tooting Blood Donor Centre, south west London
The use of ‘convalescent plasma’ rests on the theory that people who survive coronavirus have developed antibodies against the virus which helps patients struggling to produce their own.
Some 50 survivors are donating their blood every day – and in time the NHS hopes to have enough to treat 5,000 people.
Fourteen NHS hospitals are already taking part in the trial, administering plasma extracted from the blood to people suffering badly with Covid-19 symptoms, While transfusions have begun, the effectiveness of plasma treatment will not be known until the trial ends, with results expected in the late summer.
The NHS is aiming to be in a position to roll out the treatment widely if it proves successful.
Professor David Roberts, NHSBT associate medical director for blood donation, said: ‘We thank everyone who is donating convalescent plasma.
‘We know many people who can donate will have been through a difficult experience and we are grateful for their help in reaching this milestone.
‘There is still much more to do. We can reassure people that convalescent plasma donation is safe and easy.
‘You’ll also be taking part in groundbreaking research. If you get the call, please donate.’ People in Manchester, London and Birmingham are invited to register to donate on the NHSBT website if they have had a positive test result for Covid-19 or if they have experienced symptoms.
Convalescent plasma is pictured being collected from Tooting Blood Donor Centre in London
Blood is collected at least 28 days after someone has recovered.
Donors can give blood at one of NHSBT’s 23 donor centres, its six regional operations centres or three community venues in London.
Some 200 new staff have been hired to collect blood for the programme.
In parallel to the trial, NHSBT is rapidly building up capacity to collect plasma so that it can deliver at a large scale, if transfusions are shown to help patients.