Transfus Med Rev. 2020 Jul 15:S0887-7963(20)30034-1. doi: 10.1016/j.tmrv.2020.06.005. Online ahead of print.
Many parallel studies of convalescent plasma with modest enrolment projections have been launched for the treatment of COVID-19. By pooling data from multiple parallel studies that are similar, we can increase the effective sample size and achieve enough statistical power to determine effectiveness more quickly through meta-analysis. A scoping review of registered clinical trials of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 was conducted to assess the feasibility of performing a rapid and timely meta-analysis that will support accelerated review for approval and implementation. ClinicalTrials.gov and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform were searched April 23, 2020. Trials were included if they utilized convalescent plasma to treat or prevent COVID-19. Forty-eight registered trials (projected to enroll more than 5000 subjects) of convalescent plasma were identified and included for analysis. The majority of studies (33 studies with 4440 projected enrolment) will address the treatment of severe and/or critical cases of COVID-19. Twenty-nine studies are controlled and 17 of these are reported as actively recruiting. The combined enrolment of patients from similar studies should be sufficient to determine meaningful improvements in mortality, rates of admission to intensive care and need for mechanical ventilation by the end of 2020-sooner than any individual study could determine effectiveness. Accessing supplemental outcome data from investigators may be needed; however, to align reporting of some outcomes from these studies. Heterogeneity in product potency due to different antibody titers is anticipated and studies using conventional treatment as controls instead of placebo may complicate our understanding of efficacy. Convalescent plasma is being tested in ongoing controlled studies, largely to treat severe and/or critical cases of COVID-19. Sufficient combined power to detect clinically important reductions in multiple outcomes, including mortality, is expected by September 2020. Regulatory approval, funding and implementation by blood operators could be accelerated by planned meta-analysis as study results become available.