Mayo: Plasma from recovered patients safe for treating COVID-19

Samples are tested for COVID-19.
Mayo Clinic conducts drive-thru testing in Rochester, Minn., to collect specimens for COVID-19 testing.
Courtesy of Mayo Clinic

New research from Mayo Clinic suggests that using plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 is safe for treating people who are fighting the virus.

The study followed 20,000 patients who received convalescent plasma as part of the Food and Drug Administration’s Expanded Access Program for COVID-19 for seven days following their transfusion, and found two things:

  • Mortality rates declined to 8.6 percent compared to 12 percent in a previous smaller safety study.

  • Serious adverse events from getting the treatment hovered at 1 percent. 

The study is national, but Mayo Clinic is the lead institution behind the project. 

The study also found that the treatment was safe for a diverse group of patients, which were treated around the country by 7,000 physicians. Nearly 40 percent of the patients were women, and 20 percent were African Americans. Nearly 35 of the patients were Hispanic and 5 percent were Asian.

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“We hope recruitment of minority subjects continues to increase given the disproportionate burden these communities have faced with COVID-19,” said Mayo Clinic researcher DeLisa Fairweather.

While the mortality rate among the patient group declined, Mayo researchers say it’s not necessarily due to the plasma treatment. 

The patients in the later parts of the study were less critically ill, the researchers said. And they pointed out that the mortality rate decrease may also be due to better medical care as doctors learn more about how to treat patients with COVID-19.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 and want to donate plasma can find a donation location through the Blood Centers of America