UI Health Care begins convalescent plasma clinical trial for COVID-19 patients

University of Iowa Health Care has begun conducting a convalescent plasma clinical trial for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma to help current hospitalized patients recover.


Katie Goodale

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is seen on Sept. 17, 2018.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

University of Iowa Health Care has begun conducting a convalescent plasma clinical trial to determine if plasma from recovered novel-coronavirus patients would help those currently hospitalized with the virus.

The trial has started taking plasma donations and 11 recovered patients have donated and five hospitalized patients have received transfusions as part of the COVID-19 care, according to a Wednesday press release. 

Convalescent plasma treatment involves the antibodies produced when people have COVID-19. These antibodies can be collected in plasma donations from recovered patients and used to help hospitalized patients fight the virus, the press release stated.  

The donors are those who have recovered after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and who have been symptom-free for two weeks and who have tested negative for having the virus, the release said. People who have been asymptomatic for 28 days will also be eligible to participate in the trial without a negative test. 

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Donors for the trial will go through the same screening process that is used for blood, plasma, and platelet donors, the release said. Enrolled participants can donate plasma at the DeGowin Blood Center at UI Hospitals and Clinics. 

Patients who have recovered from the virus have reached out to UIHC about how they can help, UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Brooks Jackson said in the release. 

“Convalescent plasma has previously been used to mitigate or prevent infection in other viral diseases,” Jackson said. “Our goal is to provide a treatment option, beyond the standard supportive care, for every one of our hospitalized patients with COVID-19.” 

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The trial will also offer antibody testing for people who believe they had COVID-19 based on their symptoms but did not receive a test for the virus. The study hopes to roll as many donors as they can because if more plasma than needed at UIHC is collected, it could be provided to other hospitals to help treat patients, Jackson said. 

UIHC is also looking into other ways to help COVID-19 patients. As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, UIHC has joined an international clinical trial looking at the effectiveness and safety of remdesivir, an antiviral drug, in treating COVID-19. 

The trial is for hospitalized patients who meet the following criteria: have laboratory confirmed COVID-19 and required hospitalization, are 12 years of age or older, show evidence of lung infection, are not pregnant or breastfeeding, and do not have underlying liver or kidney dysfunction.