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Mortality reduction in ICU-admitted COVID-19 patients in Suriname after treatment with convalescent plasma acquired via gravity filtration

R. Bihariesingh-Sanchit, , J. Fröberg, N. Ramdhani, R. Mangroo, D. Bustamente, E. Diaz, I. Thakoer, S. Vreden, Z. Choudhry,
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Published: 19 April 2021
Abstract: Background Although convalescent plasma (CP) treatment is a potential therapeutic option for patients with COVID-19, there is a paucity of data from studies in low-resource settings. The efficacy and safety of CP therapy in intensive care unit (ICU) patients with COVID-19 in Suriname was evaluated. A novel gravity-based filtration method was used to obtain CP. The design was an open-label, multi-centre, non-randomized prospective clinical trial performed in two hospitals in Suriname, from June 2020, to December 2020. A pre-planned interim analysis is reported in 78 PCR-confirmed COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU with severe or life-threatening symptoms. CP in combination with standard treatment (n = 28) was compared to standard treatment alone (control) (n = 50), stratified by disease severity. The primary endpoint was 28-day ICU mortality. Secondary (exploratory) endpoints were changes two days after treatment initiation in pulmonary oxygen exchange capacity (PF ratio) and chest x-ray (CXR) score. Findings The median age of patients was 52 years with 43 [55.1%] being male. Twenty-eight day mortality occurred in 18% (5/28) of the CP group vs 36% (18/50) of the control group. Survival probability was significantly higher in the CP group compared to the control group with standard care (P=0.027). When stratifying into disease severity, the survival probability was the lowest for the control group with life-threatening disease (P=0.0051). CP treatment of severe COVID-19 resulted in a higher probability of survival, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.22 (95% CI, 0.074-0.067), correcting for age, the presence of diabetes and COVID-19 severity. Age significantly increased the mortality risk (HR, 1.08 [95%CI, 1.022-1.14]; P = 0.006). In the severe group, CP resulted in an improved CXR score (P =0.0013) and increase in PF ratio (P = 0.011) as compared to standard therapy. The gravity-based plasmapheresis method used for CP production was well-tolerated and no adverse events were observed in the donors. Interpretation Among patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, CP therapy in combination with standard treatment resulted in 78% reduction of 28-day ICU mortality (HR = 0.22) compared to standard treatment alone. Both CXR-score and PF ratio changes represent indicators of treatment effect of CP after two days and can easily be implemented in low-resource settings. The novel CP production method was effective and represents a practical solution for low- and middle income countries (LMICs) to produce CP locally. Although interpretation is limited by the non-randomized design of the trial, these results offer a potential route for broader implementation of CP treatment in LMICs. Funding This study was funded by the Academic Hospital Paramaribo, without additional third-party funding.
Keywords: gravity / ICU / low resource settings / COVID / efficacy / treatment / CP therapy

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