Canadian Blood Services begins collecting plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19 as part of Canada’s CONCOR Trial
“I’m delighted to be able to help out a really good cause. I have been an active blood donor for 15 years. I’m pleased my unfortunate situation can help somebody else. I think I’m doing a little bit of good out of all this.” says Jerry Glubisz, Canadian Blood Services’ first COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor.
Canadian Blood Services is establishing a national convalescent plasma collection program. The blood operator is now recruiting potential convalescent plasma donors across the country through its new online registry.
“Convalescent plasma may help patients recover from COVID-19, but this has not yet been proven. Well-designed clinical trials, like CONCOR, will help provide the necessary information about whether this is a safe and effective treatment option for patients,” says Dr. Dana Devine, chief scientist with Canadian Blood Services. “We’re making an important contribution to research on a global scale that could help patients in Canada and around the world.”
Over the next few weeks more convalescent plasma donors, like Jerry Glubisz, may donate at one of 11 Canadian Blood Services donor centres that have the capability to collect blood components, like plasma, through a process called apheresis. These donor centres are located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.
Initially, all convalescent plasma donations will be supplied to Canadian physicians caring for patients with COVID-19 in the context of the CONCOR trial and under the authorization of Health Canada.
Including both of Canada’s public blood operators (Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec), there are 10 research teams and more than 50 hospitals across the country currently participating in CONCOR. Patient involvement in the clinical trial will be determined by their treating physician at a participating hospital in consultation with the patient and/or the patient’s family. Patients with COVID-19 who are looking for more information on convalescent plasma as a treatment option are encouraged to visit CONCOR1.ca.
While Canadian Blood Services has officially started collecting convalescent plasma, these donations must still undergo all necessary testing and processing before being issued for use by physicians, as per blood safety and quality standards. Transfusions of convalescent plasma are expected to begin within a few weeks when the trial begins.
A convalescent plasma donation is the same as a plasma donation; however, a specific donor is needed for this clinical trial. In addition to meeting Canada’s current plasma donor eligibility criteria, convalescent plasma donors must be younger than 67 years of age, previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test, and fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days to participate. Donors must also live within driving distance of a donor centre located in one of the aforementioned cities. Anyone who meets these requirements is encouraged to join Canadian Blood Services’ online registry. Additional testing will be done at the time of collection to ensure there are adequate antibodies against the COVID-19 virus in the donor’s plasma to be part of the trial.
Registered convalescent plasma donors who may be eligible are being contacted now and all convalescent plasma donation appointments are being booked as donors are qualified to participate by Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation which oversees research and development for the organization.
Canadian Blood Services is not accepting walk-in donors for any of its collection programs during the pandemic.