medRxiv. 2020 Aug 12:2020.08.12.20169359. doi: 10.1101/2020.08.12.20169359. Preprint.
IMPORTANCE: Passive antibody transfer is a longstanding treatment strategy for infectious diseases that involve the respiratory system. In this context, human convalescent plasma has been used to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but the efficacy remains uncertain.
OBJECTIVE: To explore potential signals of efficacy of COVID-19 convalescent plasma.
DESIGN: Open-label, Expanded Access Program (EAP) for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with human convalescent plasma.
SETTING: Multicenter, including 2,807 acute care facilities in the US and territories.
PARTICIPANTS: Adult participants enrolled and transfused under the purview of the US Convalescent Plasma EAP program between April 4 and July 4, 2020 who were hospitalized with (or at risk of) severe or life threatening acute COVID-19 respiratory syndrome.
INTERVENTION: Transfusion of at least one unit of human COVID-19 convalescent plasma using standard transfusion guidelines at any time during hospitalization. Convalescent plasma was donated by recently-recovered COVID-19 survivors, and the antibody levels in the units collected were unknown at the time of transfusion. Main Outcomes and Measures: Seven and thirty-day mortality.
RESULTS: The 35,322 transfused patients had heterogeneous demographic and clinical characteristics. This cohort included a high proportion of critically-ill patients, with 52.3% in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 27.5% receiving mechanical ventilation at the time of plasma transfusion. The seven-day mortality rate was 8.7% [95% CI 8.3%-9.2%] in patients transfused within 3 days of COVID-19 diagnosis but 11.9% [11.4%-12.2%] in patients transfused 4 or more days after diagnosis (p<0.001). Similar findings were observed in 30-day mortality (21.6% vs. 26.7%, p<0.0001). Importantly, a gradient of mortality was seen in relation to IgG antibody levels in the transfused plasma. For patients who received high IgG plasma (>18.45 S/Co), seven-day mortality was 8.9% (6.8%, 11.7%); for recipients of medium IgG plasma (4.62 to 18.45 S/Co) mortality was 11.6% (10.3%, 13.1%); and for recipients of low IgG plasma (<4.62 S/Co) mortality was 13.7% (11.1%, 16.8%) (p=0.048). This unadjusted dose-response relationship with IgG was also observed in thirty-day mortality (p=0.021). The pooled relative risk of mortality among patients transfused with high antibody level plasma units was 0.65 [0.47-0.92] for 7 days and 0.77 [0.63-0.94] for 30 days compared to low antibody level plasma units.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The relationships between reduced mortality and both earlier time to transfusion and higher antibody levels provide signatures of efficacy for convalescent plasma in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. This information may be informative for the treatment of COVID-19 and design of randomized clinical trials involving convalescent plasma.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04338360.