Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 3, 2021

UMass Medical School expanding COVID-19 plasma study

Photo | Grant Welker UMass Medical School in Worcester

UMass Medical School is looking to expand enrollment in a study seeking to find out whether giving blood plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients can prevent others from getting severe cases of the disease.

The Worcester school is collaborating with Johns Hopkins University in Maryland on the convalescent plasma study, which began last fall at the UMass Medical School campus. The study aims to determine whether convalescent plasma keeps patients from getting very sick with coronavirus and whether giving people antibodies earlier in the illness is effective at treating the virus and in preventing those exposed to it from catching the disease.

UMass Medical School received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval last April to use convalescent plasma from a recovered patient, and said shortly thereafter it saw encouraging results from the first patient it has treated with the plasma. After hours of transfusion, the critically ill patient dramatically improved and was being weaned off a ventilator, shortly after the ventilator had to be brought to near maximum settings to get enough oxygen.

Last September, the FDA said convalescent plasma may be effective in coronavirus cases.

UMass and Johns Hopkins are now halfway through studying enough people in their clinical trial, and said they could know within a month of full enrollment if the treatments are effective at making COVID-19 less severe for patients. Worcester is a prioritized site for trial locations because of the medical school's ability to perform more blood transfusions.

The schools said convalescent plasma may still be needed despite vaccines already being distributed to millions of people because of limitations of those vaccines. Unlike vaccines, plasma doesn't need to be stored at very low temperatures and doesn't require time to manufacture and distribute. It also comes at a far cheaper cost than developing vaccinations.

People may be eligible for the study if they are over 18 and received positive coronavirus test results no more than five days before. They'll need to still have symptoms but not be hospitalized. The trial is enrolling participants at

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


Order a PDF