UVA Health is launching a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of using plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 as a potential treatment for inpatients with the disease.
Inpatients at UVA who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be offered the opportunity to participate in the trial. Plasma from recovered patients, also known as convalescent plasma, has antibodies to COVID-19 that potentially could aid in treatment.
“Convalescent plasma has been used with success in other serious coronavirus infections such as SARS and MERS, and even in the recent Ebola virus outbreak,” said Dr. Scott Heysell, an infectious disease specialist at UVA Health and one of the lead investigators for the trial. “This option may boost the body’s own ability to coordinate an effective immune response to clearing the virus and preventing severe COVID-19 disease.”
The convalescent plasma will come from the American Red Cross, which provides blood and blood products to UVA Health. Physicians at UVA will call patients who tested positive and are recovering from COVID-19 to ask if they would be screened by the Red Cross as a potential plasma donor. Other community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 are also encouraged to contact the Red Cross to see if they are eligible to donate plasma.
“I am pleased that we are exploring another avenue in a search for an effective treatment against COVID-19,” said Dr. K. Craig Kent, UVA’s executive vice president for health affairs. “Clinical trials like this are a valuable part of the work accomplished at academic health systems.”
This is the second clinical trial at UVA Health examining a potential COVID-19 treatment; the federal Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency-use authorization for a drug tested at UVA Health, remdesivir, to be used against COVID-19.