With experts predicting that a vaccine for COVID-19 is at least a year away, Sutter and Vitalant are collaborating to offer investigational treatment with convalescent plasma—blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19—to hospitalized patients with severe cases of the disease under requirements recently outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Convalescent plasma, rich in protective antibodies, is the liquid component of blood. Not-for-profit Sutter Health is the first non-academic hospital system in California to participate in this research, launching expanded access program testing the use of convalescent plasma at its affiliates California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), Sutter Medical Center Sacramento and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, with other Sutter sites beginning the clinical trial in the coming weeks.
“By collaborating with community partners like Vitalant, we’re bringing an opportunity for the latest cutting-edge research to our patients,” says Sean Townsend, M.D., an intensive care medicine specialist in CPMC’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. “Convalescent plasma is a potentially promising treatment for COVID-19 that we will test in clinical trials across the Sutter integrated network of care. We hope to build a supply of convalescent plasma that will add to our arsenal of emerging treatments to fight the virus.”
Vitalant physician colleague, Chris Gresens, M.D., adds, “We hope this therapy will serve as a type of ‘stop-gap vaccine substitute’ by providing severely affected patients just enough of an ‘immune boost’ to help them to recover more fully and quickly.”
The plasma donor must test negative for COVID-19 and be otherwise healthy. Convalescent plasma from one donor may be used to treat as many as four hospitalized patients with the illness who consent to participate in a clinical trial of the treatment.
Convalescent plasma has been studied for the treatment of numerous illnesses, most recently for infectious diseases such as Ebola, SARS, MERS and H1N1.
August 24, 2020 Update: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization on August 23, 2020 for emergency use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. A clinical trial testing the investigational use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 is closed to participant enrollment at Sutter.