Guidelines: Convalescent Plasma Not Recommended for Most Hospitalized With COVID

Marcia Frellick

August 16, 2022

The Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies has released clinical practice guidelines for using COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) in hospital and outpatient settings.

In summarizing the practice statement, the authors write, “CCP is most effective when transfused with high neutralizing titers early after symptom onset.”

The five guidelines, were published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The guidelines and strength of recommendations are:

  • Nonhospitalized patients at high risk for disease progression should have CCP transfusion in addition to usual standard of care. (weak)

  • CCP transfusion should not be done for unselected hospitalized patients with moderate or severe disease. This does not apply to immunosuppressed patients or those who lack antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. (strong)

  • CCP transfusion is suggested in addition to the usual standard of care for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who do not have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at admission. (weak)

  • Prophylactic CCP transfusion is not recommended for uninfected people with close contact exposure to someone with COVID-19. (weak)

  • The AABB suggests CCP transfusion along with standard of care for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and preexisting immunosuppression. (weak)

Multiple Guidelines for Use of CCP Are Similar

In an accompanying editorial, Jason V. Baker, MD, MS, and H. Clifford Lane, MD, who are part of the National Institutes of Health Treatment Guidelines Panel, say guidelines from that organization around CCP generally align with those of the AABB and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

They all note CCP’s potential for helping immunocompromised patients and they recommend against CCP in unselected, hospitalized patients.

The main difference is that the AABB also “suggests” using CCP in combination with other standard treatments for outpatients at high risk for disease progression, regardless of their immune status, write Baker, who is with Hennepin Healthcare and the department of medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and Lane, who is with the National Institutes of Health.

The precise circumstance for recommending CCP remains unclear, Baker and Lane write. That’s because most available evidence has come in the absence of vaccines and antiviral agents, including nirmatrelvir–ritonavir (Paxlovid), they explain.

“At this point in the pandemic, it seems that the patient most likely to benefit from passive antibody therapy is the immunocompromised host with COVID-19 who cannot mount their own antibody response to vaccine or prior infection,” they write.

“In that setting, and in the absence of other antiviral treatments or progression despite receipt of standard treatments, high-titer CCP from a recently recovered donor is a reasonable approach,” they conclude.

Eileen Barrett, MD, MPH, an assistant professor in the division of hospital medicine at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, said in an interview that “clinical guidelines like this really help practicing physicians as we navigate the explosion of research findings since the start of the pandemic.”

One Strong Recommendation

Barrett pointed out that four of the five recommendations are rated “weak.”

“The weak recommendations for convalescent plasma in most situations is very humbling,” she said, “particularly as we recall the earliest days of the pandemic when many hospitalized patients received this treatment when little was known about what could help.”

She highlighted the paper’s only strong recommendation, which was against convalescent plasma use for the vast majority of hospitalized patients with COVID.

“That clinical bottom line is what most clinicians will look for,” she said.

“Similarly,” she said, “the accompanying editorial is so helpful in reminding the reader that, despite some possible benefit to convalescent plasma in a smaller subgroup of patients, variant-appropriate monoclonal antibodies and antivirals are better options.”

The disclosures for lead author of the guidelines, Lise J. Estcourt, MB BChir, DPhil, with the National Health Service Blood and Transplant Department and Radcliffe department of medicine at the University of Oxford (England) and her colleagues are available at https://rmed.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M22-1079. The editorialists and Barrett declare no relevant financial relationships.

This story originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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