Background: The efficacy of polyclonal high titer convalescent plasma to prevent serious complications of COVID-19 in outpatients with recent onset of illness is uncertain.
Methods: This multicenter, double-blind randomized controlled trial compared the efficacy and safety of SARS-CoV-2 high titer convalescent plasma to placebo control plasma in symptomatic adults ≥18 years positive for SARS-CoV-2 regardless of risk factors for disease progression or vaccine status. Participants with symptom onset within 8 days were enrolled, then transfused within the subsequent day. The measured primary outcome was COVID-19-related hospitalization within 28 days of plasma transfusion. The enrollment period was June 3, 2020 to October 1, 2021.
Results: A total of 1225 participants were randomized and 1181 transfused. In the pre-specified modified intention-to-treat analysis that excluded those not transfused, the primary endpoint occurred in 37 of 589 (6.3%) who received placebo control plasma and in 17 of 592 (2.9%) participants who received convalescent plasma (relative risk, 0.46; one-sided 95% upper bound confidence interval 0.733; P=0.004) corresponding to a 54% risk reduction. Examination with a model adjusting for covariates related to the outcome did not change the conclusions.
Conclusion: Early administration of high titer SARS-CoV-2 convalescent plasma reduced outpatient hospitalizations by more than 50%. High titer convalescent plasma is an effective early outpatient COVID-19 treatment with the advantages of low cost, wide availability, and rapid resilience to variant emergence from viral genetic drift in the face of a changing pandemic.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04373460.
Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 convalescent plasma; SARS-CoV-2; blood transfusion; therapy.