Update on Convalescent Plasma Program

When we started collecting convalescent plasma program it was not known whether it would help people sick with COVID-19 to get better. The optimal level of antibodies in a convalescent plasma donation was also unknown.

There have now been considerable advancements in knowledge thanks to the results from large clinical trials from across the world. These trials have shown that convalescent plasma does not help hospitalised people who are sick with COVID-19 to get better. Because of these results, and the fact that Australia has been so successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19, a decision has been made to stop some of the Australian trials using convalescent plasma for hospitalised patients.

While this is disappointing news, there are ongoing trials looking at using convalescent plasma in different ways, such as giving the product much earlier, before the patient becomes very unwell and needs to be in hospital, and also for people with certain medical problems that reduce the ability of the persons immune system to respond to the infection. For this reason, we are continuing to collect convalescent plasma that will be used to make COVID-19 Immunoglobulin, a medicine to be used in these situations, rather than a direct transfusion as was used in the clinical trials.

Research has also shown that convalescent plasma with high levels of COVID-19 antibodies results in a better clinical response compared with plasma that has a lower level of COVID antibodies. This means we now need a higher minimum amount of antibodies in every convalescent plasma donation. Unfortunately, this level is high enough that many of our existing convalescent plasma donors don’t meet this level.

If you are one of the donors affected by the change and are no longer eligible, you will be notified by letter. Please be assured that the donations you have given already have either been used as part of the convalescent program or will be used to help patients in need. No donation has gone to waste, and we are very grateful for your willingness to be involved in this program. We want to thank every donor who has generously contributed and encourage all our donors to continue to donate blood and plasma.