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Convalescent Plasma Therapy for Patients With Hematologic Cancers Hospitalized for COVID-19


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In a retrospective cohort study reported in JAMA Oncology, Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD, FASCO, and colleagues found that the use of convalescent plasma therapy was associated with improved 30-day mortality among patients with hematologic cancers hospitalized for COVID-19.

Study Details

The study used data from the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium registry collected between March 17, 2020, and January 21, 2021, from patients with hematologic cancers who were hospitalized for COVID-19. The main outcome measure was 30-day all-cause mortality. Outcomes were compared between all patients who did vs did not receive convalescent plasma and in 1:1 propensity score–matched analyses.


The findings of this cohort study suggest a potential survival benefit in the administration of convalescent plasma to patients with hematologic cancers and COVID-19.
— Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD, FASCO, and colleagues

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Key Findings

A total of 966 patients were included in the analysis; of these, 143 received convalescent plasma therapy and 823 did not.

With a median follow-up of 30 days (interquartile range = 21–90 days), 223 patients (23.1%) died within 30 days of COVID-19 diagnosis. The mortality rate among convalescent plasma recipients (19/143 = 13.3%) was significantly lower than that among nonrecipients (204/823 = 24.8%) on crude analysis (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.47, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.30–0.76). The difference remained significant in multivariate analysis adjusting for potential confounding factors in the overall comparison (adjusted HR = 0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.37–0.97, P = .03) and in the propensity score-matched analysis (HR = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.29–0.92, P = .03).  

Among 338 patients admitted to the intensive care unit, the mortality rate was significantly lower in convalescent plasma recipients (12/76 = 15.8%) vs nonrecipients (123/262 = 46.9%) on crude analysis (HR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.14–0.47). The difference remained significant in multivariate analysis (adjusted HR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.16–0.56) and in propensity score–matched analysis (HR = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.20–0.80).

Among 227 patients requiring mechanical ventilatory support, the mortality rate was lower in convalescent plasma recipients (8/45 = 17.8%) vs nonrecipients (97/182 = 53.3%) on crude analysis (HR = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.16–0.49). The difference remained significant on multivariate analysis (HR = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.10–0.50) and in propensity score–matched analysis (HR = 0.32, 95% CI = 0.14–0.72).

The investigators concluded, “The findings of this cohort study suggest a potential survival benefit in the administration of convalescent plasma to patients with hematologic cancers and COVID-19.”

Jeremy L. Warner, MD, MS, of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, Vanderbilt University, is the corresponding author for the JAMA Oncology article.

Disclosure: The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Cancer Institute, and others. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit jamanetwork.com.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.
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