Background: Although frequently used in the early pandemic, data on the effectiveness of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) remain mixed. We investigated the effectiveness and safety of CCP in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in real-world practices during the first two waves of the pandemic in a multi-hospital healthcare system in Texas.
Methods and findings: Among 11,322 hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection from July 1, 2020 to April 15, 2021, we included patients who received CCP and matched them with those who did not receive CCP within ±2 days of the transfusion date across sites within strata of sex, age groups, days and use of dexamethasone from hospital admission to the match date, and oxygen requirements 4-12 hours prior to the match date. Cox proportional hazards model estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for effectiveness outcomes in a propensity score 1:1 matched cohort. Pre-defined safety outcomes were described. We included 1,245 patients each in the CCP treated and untreated groups. Oxygen support was required by 93% of patients at the baseline. The pre-defined primary effectiveness outcome of 28-day in-hospital all-cause mortality (HR = 0.85; 95%CI: 0.66,1.10) were similar between treatment groups. Sensitivity and stratified analyses found similar null results. CCP-treated patients were less likely to be discharged alive (HR = 0.82; 95%CI: 0.74, 0.91), and more likely to receive mechanical ventilation (HR = 1.48; 95%CI: 1.12, 1.96). Safety outcomes were rare and similar between treatment groups.
Conclusion: The findings in this large, matched cohort of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and mostly requiring oxygen support at the time of treatment, do not support a clinical benefit in 28-day in-hospital all-cause mortality for CCP. Future studies should assess the potential benefits with specifically high-titer units in perhaps certain subgroups of patients (e.g. those with early disease or immunocompromised).