28 May 2020

Study to investigate plasma potential in COVID fight

A pilot study that will assess the effectiveness of transfusing active COVID-19 cases with plasma from recovered patients (convalescent plasma) is among 12 local research projects being funded by the Department of Health for COVID-19 related research.

The pilot is being led by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital respiratory specialist Dr Anna Tai who will determine whether antibodies contained in donated plasma can prevent patients from deteriorating to the point where they need to be hospitalised or develop Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The project will also see whether such early intervention can reduce the time it takes for a patient to feel better or clear the virus from his or her system.

Due to the low number of active cases in WA at present, Dr Tai is collaborating with other research groups to involve patients from other states and jurisdictions.

In the absence of a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, Dr Tai’s study will investigate the therapeutic potential of convalescent plasma in treating COVID-19 patients in the early stages of disease.

Convalescent plasma has been shown to be effective in managing patients during other major viral outbreaks including the SARS, MERS, Ebola and H1N1 and H5N1 pandemics.

Dr Tai’s study and the 11 other recipient projects will share in $1.9 million of grants in the COVID-19 Research Grant Program. 

The funding program is being overseen by the WA Department of Health in conjunction with the WA Health Translation Network, which includes consumer representation through the Consumer and Community Health Research Network.

In addition to these grants, another $1 million has been provided for infrastructure support which will cover costs of consumables, staffing and site set-up for local COVID-19 research.

The full list of recipients is on the Department of Health website.