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COVID-19 and convalescent plasma

How you may be able to help others with the virus.

We are proud to be part of CONCOR, a national clinical trial to test if COVID-19 convalescent plasma could be a safe and effective treatment option for patients with the virus.

 

 

 

 

Who can donate?

Who can donate?


To participate as a convalescent plasma donor

in this trial, you must meet the current plasma donor eligibility criteria and you must be:

  • Younger than 67 years old;
  • Previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test; and
  • Fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days.

Please note: a history of donating blood is not required

Where can I donate?

Where can I donate?


We are currently seeking potential convalescent plasma donors who live in the following cities:  

  • Calgary
  • Charlottetown
  • Edmonton
  • Halifax
  • Hamilton
  • London
  • Ottawa
  • Regina
  • Saint John
  • Saskatoon
  • St. John’s
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg

Please note: appointments for convalescent plasma donors are being booked by phone through the donor qualification process that is specific to the clinical trial.

How can I help?

How can I help?


If you meet the convalescent plasma donor requirements, we encourage you to join our registry of potential donors by completing the form below.

Convalescent plasma donors must live within reasonable driving distance from our donor centres. If you live in Quebec, we encourage you to contact Héma-Québec.

We are contacting registered donors now. Only those who may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma will be contacted.

Please note: we can only welcome donors with confirmed appointments at this time.

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Canadian Blood Services will use your personal information to contact you about potentially becoming a convalescent plasma donor, as well as send you information about convalescent donation.  Your date of birth and sex are used to determine your eligibility to donate convalescent plasma. Please read our Privacy Notice to Blood Donors  for more information on how we collect, use and disclose personal information provided by plasma donors. You can withdraw your consent to receiving our communications at any time by contacting our National Contact Center at 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-263-6283).

Questions and answers: About the clinical trial

Updated May 6, 2020

What is convalescent plasma?

Convalescent plasma is plasma that is collected from patients who have recovered from a virus, which means they have developed the antibodies necessary to fight off that virus. These antibodies develop in the body’s plasma and remain there — even after someone has fully recovered — to shield them from possible future infection from that virus.

In theory, these antibodies could be the key ingredient for a treatment to help others with the same virus.

The use of convalescent plasma to treat an illness is not a new concept in medicine. In fact, convalescent plasma was used as a treatment for patients during the 1918 influenza outbreak — also known as the Spanish flu.

What is Canadian Blood Services’ role?

We are proud to be part of CONCOR, a national clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 convalescent plasma as a possible treatment option for patients with the virus. We announced our involvement in the clinical trial earlier this month.

Scientists from our Centre for Innovation are part of a group of clinical investigators, including 11 research teams and more than 50 hospitals, that is conducting the clinical trial.

With Health Canada’s approval of our clinical trial application, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to Canadian physicians caring for patients with the virus in the context of the clinical trial. As the national blood operator, we have the expertise and the infrastructure necessary to safely collect, prepare and distribute convalescent plasma for use in a trial of this size and scope.

Well-designed clinical trials, like CONCOR, will help provide the information necessary to prove whether convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment. It will be an important contribution to research on a global scale that could help patients in Canada and around the world.

Will Canadian Blood Services collect convalescent plasma in its donor centres?

Yes, COVID-19 convalescent plasma is now being collected at some of our fixed donor centres. We can collect convalescent plasma at our donor centres across Canada that have the capability to collect plasma and platelet donations through a process called apheresis. These donor centres are located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Saint John, Charlottetown and St. John’s.

We are leveraging the existing skills and experience of our team members who are involved in collecting plasma donations every day.

Is collecting convalescent plasma in Canadian Blood Services’ donor centres safe?

As the national blood operator, Canadian Blood Services has the expertise and the infrastructure necessary to safely collect, prepare and distribute convalescent plasma for use in a national clinical trial.

To ensure safety during the pandemic, we will only collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma from donors who have fully recovered from the virus.

To ensure transfusion medicine safety, convalescent plasma donors must also meet Canada’s current plasma donor eligibility criteria.

We will continue working with public health to protect all employees, volunteers and donors.

When will the trial begin?

With Health Canada’s approval of our national clinical trial application, we started to book appointments for convalescent plasma donors at the end of April.

What do you hope to achieve with the trial?

Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove whether COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment for patients with the virus, which is why it is not widely available in Canada.

Well-designed clinical trials, like the one Canadian Blood Services is participating in, will help provide the information necessary to prove whether convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment. The results from the clinical trial will inform future decisions on the wider availability of convalescent plasma. It will be an important contribution to research on a global scale that could help patients in Canada and around the world.

If it works, will Canadian Blood Services collect convalescent plasma long term?

The clinical trial needs to be completed first, so we have evidence that this therapy actually works. Internationally, researchers are investigating other available options or trying to develop

new ones to treat, prevent or cure COVID-19. At this time, it is too early to say what could happen or what our role may be longer term.

Questions and answers: Donors

How will donors be recruited to participate in the trial?

We have created an online registry where anyone who is interested in participating in the CONCOR trial can sign up as a potential convalescent plasma donor. We are contacting registrants, as needed. Please note: only those who may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma will be contacted.

 

I’ve recovered from COVID-19 and want to help. How can I donate in the trial?

In addition to meeting Canada’s plasma donor eligibility criteria, convalescent plasma donors will also need to meet additional requirements specific to our convalescent plasma collection program.

To participate, convalescent plasma donors must be:

  • Younger than 67 years old;
  • Previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test; and
  • Fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days.

 

I am already a plasma donor. Can I participate in the trial?

Thank you! Your donations are helping patients in Canada who need plasma products.

In terms of the CONCOR trial, we have created an online registry where anyone who is interested in participating in the clinical trial can sign up as a potential convalescent plasma donor.

We are contacting registrants, as needed. Please note: only those who may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma will be contacted.

Your donations matter. If you are not contacted to participate in this trial, we urge you to continue participating in our national plasma donation program as the need for blood and plasma is constant.

 

What are the eligibility criteria for convalescent plasma donors?

In addition to meeting Canada’s plasma donor eligibility criteria, convalescent plasma donors will also need to meet additional requirements specific to our convalescent plasma collection program.

To participate, convalescent plasma donors must be:

  • Younger than 67 years old;
  • Previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a laboratory test; and
  • Fully recovered from the virus and symptom free for at least 28 days
Why does a convalescent plasma donor need to be younger than 67?

This age limit is consistent with current plasma donor eligibility criteria in Canada for first-time plasma donors who have not donated blood before.

Can someone who hasn’t had COVID-19 still donate?

Not for this clinical trial. Convalescent plasma is plasma that is collected from someone who has recovered from a virus, which means they have developed the antibodies necessary to fight off that virus. These antibodies could be the key ingredient for a treatment to help others with the same virus. This is why only people who have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 and

therefore have developed the antibodies needed to fight it, can donate as part of the clinical trial.

Why does a convalescent plasma donor need to be symptom free for 28 days?

Recent Federal Drug Agency (FDA) guidelines on the collection of COVID-19 convalescent plasma recommend that donors who are symptom free for 28 days do not require additional virus testing before donating.

In addition, early international research suggests that COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors provided higher levels of antibodies for the virus after 28 days of being symptom free than they did at 14 days because their immune systems had enough time to transition from the stage of infection to a steady state immunity.

How is Canadian Blood Services determining that a convalescent plasma donor is fully recovered?

Every convalescent plasma donor will be pre-screened by telephone to determine their eligibility before their appointment to donate is booked.

To donate, a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor must be symptom free for at least 28 days. This aligns with recent FDA guidelines on the collection of COVID-19 convalescent plasma.

Also, early evidence shows that COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors yield higher levels of antibodies for the virus after 28 days.

As information about the virus is evolving rapidly, we closely monitor international developments to make sure our processes and eligibility criteria align with the best evidence available to protect employees, donors and volunteers.

Questions and answers: Patients

My doctor says convalescent plasma is not available to treat patients with COVID-19 in Canada. Will it be available and, if so, when?

Your doctor is correct, convalescent plasma is not currently available in Canada. This is because there is insufficient scientific evidence to prove whether COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a successful treatment for patients with the virus. This is why Canadian Blood Services will soon start supplying convalescent plasma within the context of a national clinical trial and under the authorization of Health Canada.

In Canada, a group of clinical investigators, including Canadian Blood Services, is conducting a clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of convalescent plasma as a possible treatment option.

Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec will be responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to Canadian physicians. Physicians will be able to use the convalescent plasma for patients who are enrolled in the clinical trial.

How will patients be involved in the trial?

Patient participation in the national clinical trial will be determined by the treating physician in consultation with the patient and according to the clinical trial protocol.

Many people are seriously ill, and some are dying. Why is convalescent plasma not already available in Canada to treat patients with COVID-19 who need it? 

We understand that this is an urgent matter. Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove whether COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment for patients with the virus, which is why it is not widely available in Canada.

A well-designed clinical trial, like the one we are developing with our partners, takes time to properly plan, authorize and implement. It is important that we ensure Canada’s clinical trial will help to provide the information necessary to prove whether convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment for patients. The results from the clinical trial will inform future decisions on the wider availability of convalescent plasma.

My loved one has COVID-19 and is in intensive care. How do we get access to convalescent plasma for them now?

We sympathize with your situation and understand that this is an urgent matter.

Currently, there is not enough data to prove whether COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a successful treatment for patients with the virus, which is why it will initially be supplied in Canada within the context of a clinical trial under the authorization of Health Canada.

It is also important to note that while the evidence on COVID-19 convalescent plasma is currently mixed, there is some early international data that suggests this therapy could be more harmful to patients who are critically ill with the virus. This is why a well-designed clinical trial is needed to determine if convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment option and how it should be used in patient care.

Questions and answers: Hospitals

How will Canadian Blood Services supply convalescent plasma to hospitals and physicians for the purpose of the clinical trial?

We will inform participating hospitals when COVID-19 convalescent plasma is available for treating physicians and how physicians will be able to access it.

We are working with our hospital partners and will leverage our existing network and procedures for distributing blood and blood products to supply convalescent plasma to hospitals.

Currently, there is not enough data to prove whether convalescent plasma is a safe and effective treatment for patients with the virus, which is why it will initially be supplied to physicians for use in the context of a clinical trial under the authorization of Health Canada