COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) has been the only specific anti-viral therapy against SARS-CoV-2 available for more than one year. Following the negative results from most randomized controlled trials on its efficacy in COVID-19 hospitalized patients and the availability of anti-spike monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), the use of CCP has subsequently rapidly faded. However, the continuous appearance of new variants of concern (VOCs), most of which escape mAbs and vaccine-elicited neutralizing antibodies (nAbs), has renewed the interest towards CCP, at least in seronegative immunocompetent patients, and in immunocompromised patients not able to mount a protective immune response. We report here the experience of a single Italian hospital in collecting and transfusing CCP in immunocompromised patients hospitalized for severe COVID-19 between October 2021 and March 2022. During this 6-month period, we collected CCP from 32 vaccinated and convalescent regular blood donors, and infused high nAb-titer CCP units (titered against the specific VOC affecting the recipient) to 21 hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, all of them seronegative at the time of CCP transfusion. Patients' median age was 66 years (IQR 50-74 years) and approximately half of them (47.6%, 10/21) were immunocompromised. Two patients were rescued after previous failure of mAbs. No adverse reactions following CCP transfusion were recorded. A 28-day mortality rate of 14.3 percent (3/21) was reported, with age, advanced disease stage and late CCP transfusion associated with a worse outcome. This real-life experience also supports the use of CCP in seronegative hospitalized COVID-19 patients during the Delta and Omicron waves.
Keywords: COVID-19 convalescent plasma; SARS-CoV-2; efficacy; variants of concern.