TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Convalescent plasma seems safe for COVID-19 patients based on data from the first 20,000 transfused patients, according to a study published online June 9 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Michael J. Joyner, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues updated key safety metrics after transfusion of convalescent plasma in a convenience sample of 20,000 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The study population was diverse and included 20 percent African-American patients and nearly 35 percent Hispanic patients. Nearly 40 percent were women; most patients were overweight or obese.

The researchers found a low incidence of all serious adverse events, including transfusion reactions, thromboembolic or thrombotic events, and cardiac events (<1, <1, and ~3 percent, respectively). Most thromboembolic or thrombotic events (55 of 87) and cardiac events (562 of 680) were deemed unrelated to the plasma transfusion. The seven-day mortality rate was 8.6 percent and was higher in critically ill versus less severely ill patients, including those admitted versus not admitted to the intensive care unit (10.5 versus 6.0 percent), those who were mechanically ventilated versus not mechanically ventilated (12.1 versus 6.2 percent), and those with versus without septic shock or multiple organ dysfunction/failure (14.0 versus 7.6 percent).

“Given the accelerating deployment of this therapy, these emerging data provide early safety indicators of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment and suggest research should shift focus from safety toward determining the efficacy of convalescent plasma,” the authors write.

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