A blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 is being trialled at Guy’s and St Thomas’ as part of the NIHR-supported REMAP-CAP trial, an international platform trial testing different treatments for patients who are severely ill with COVID-19.

As one of the most research active Trusts in England, Guy’s and St Thomas’ research is playing a key part in halting the current pandemic, by identifying and testing COVID-19 treatments and diagnostics.

The potential new treatment, known as ‘convalescent plasma’ involves blood plasma donations from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. This plasma is transfused into COVID-19 patients whose bodies are not producing enough of their own antibodies against the virus, in an attempt to support the patients fighting the disease.

The first donations of blood plasma have now been collected and the first transfusions will follow in the coming weeks.

The trial is co-led by Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, a consultant in intensive care medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’, along with experts from NHS Blood and Transplant and the University of Cambridge.

Dr Shankar-Hari, who is also an NIHR Clinician Scientist and Reader and Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at King’s College London, said: “As a new disease, there are no proven drugs to treat critically ill patients with COVID-19. Providing critically ill patients with plasma from patients who have recovered (referred to as convalescent plasma) could improve their chances of recovery. I am proud to be one of the principal investigators in the NHS Blood and Transplant-led clinical trial testing this research idea.”

Dr Kate Blake, Director of Research and Development at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We are incredibly proud that one of our clinical researchers is co-leading this national priority trial for a promising treatment for COVID-19. As one of the most research active Trusts in England, Guy’s and St Thomas’ is at the heart of the national effort to develop diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19.

“We are mobilising our expert research community to work with patients and their families, delivering priority COVID-19 studies that hold the most potential to tackle this pandemic.”

If the trial proves the treatment to be effective, NHS Blood and Transplant will scale-up a national programme to deliver up to 10,000 units of convalescent plasma per week to the NHS. This would provide enough convalescent plasma to treat 5,000 patients each week.

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care secretary said: “This global pandemic is the biggest public health emergency this generation has faced and we are doing absolutely everything we can to beat it.

“The UK has world-leading life sciences and research sectors and I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease.

“Hundreds of people are participating in national trials already for potential treatments and the scaling up of convalescent plasma collection means thousands could potentially benefit from it in the future.”