Major study finds convalescent plasma doesn’t help seriously ill COVID-19 patients

September 29, 2021

Early on in the pandemic there were high hopes that convalescent plasma, obtained from people who had recovered COVID-19, might be able to improve outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Some countries, such as the United States, even authorized emergency use of convalescent plasma, despite a lack of evidence. 

Now, a Canadian-led randomized controlled trial involving more than 900 patients has found that convalescent plasma does not reduce the risk of intubation or death for COVID-19 patients. However, the study, published in Nature Medicine, also revealed that the antibody profile in the blood of people who have had the virus is extremely variable and this may be an important factor in the response to the treatment. 

The Ottawa Hospital was one of the top centres participating in the trial, with more than 50 patients enrolled. Drs. Dean Fergusson and Alan Tinmouth played a key role in the trial, which received seed funding through The Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. See media release from McMaster University and coverage from CTV National News and NewsMedical.

Authors: Bégin P, Callum J, Jamula E, Cook R, Heddle NM, Tinmouth A, Zeller MP, Beaudoin-Bussières G, Amorim L, Bazin R, Loftsgard KC, Carl R, Chassé M, Cushing MM, Daneman N, Devine DV, Dumaresq J, Fergusson DA, Gabe C, Glesby MJ, Li N, Liu Y, McGeer A, Robitaille N, Sachais BS, Scales DC, Schwartz L, Shehata N, Turgeon AF, Wood H, Zarychanski R, Finzi A; CONCOR-1 Study Group, Arnold DM

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, Toronto COVID-19 Action Initiative 2020 (University of Toronto), Fondation du CHU Ste-Justine, Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec, Fonds de Recherche du Québec, University Health Network Emergent Access Innovation Fund, University Health Academic Health Science Centre Alternative Funding Plan (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre), Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, University of Alberta Hospital Foundation, Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Foundation Competition, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation, Fondation du CHUM, Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Organization, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, Sinai Health System Foundation, McMaster University

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa and supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. 

Media Contact 
Jenn Ganton