Canadian Blood Services is actively working with Health Canada and the international research community to contribute to the global effort to determine if COVID-19 convalescent plasma could be an effective treatment for the coronavirus.
Canadian Blood Services is part of a team of experts representing Canada on an international working group in partnership with Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In Canada, the research community has rallied together to design a national clinical trial on the use of convalescent plasma in treating the virus. An application will be submitted to Health Canada shortly. Pending approval, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec will be responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to hospitals across the country.
“We have the expertise and the infrastructure necessary to collect and prepare convalescent plasma for use in a clinical trial to test its safety and effectiveness as a treatment option,” said Dr. Dana Devine, chief scientist for Canadian Blood Services. “Plasma will only be collected from volunteer donors who have fully recovered from the virus and will be used by Canadian physicians caring for patients with COVID-19 in the context of the clinical trial.”
Once the trial is underway, Canadian Blood Services will contact potential convalescent plasma donors based on defined criteria which will be approved as part of the clinical trial protocol. Convalescent plasma donors will also need to meet current Canadian Blood Services’ donor eligibility criteria. Presently, there is a small, but growing, number of people across Canada who could be eligible to participate as convalescent plasma donors in this trial.
Convalescent plasma is collected through the plasma donation process. When someone contracts a virus, their body develops antibodies against it. The antibodies remain present in their plasma to shield them from possible future infection. In theory, these antibodies could be the key ingredient for a treatment to help others with the same virus.
A national clinical trial of this size and scope will require several months to complete. In the meantime, Canadians are urged to donate blood in the next few weeks to help maintain an adequate supply of blood and blood products for patients. The need for blood is constant. Patients undergoing surgery and cancer treatment, injury victims and people living with blood disorders rely on blood products every day. To book an appointment visit blood.ca, download the GiveBlood app or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-866-236-6283).
—Canadian Blood Services