December 4, 2020 3.58 pm This story is over 35 months old

New Lincolnshire donation centre for COVID-19 plasma trial

World’s largest randomised COVID-19 plasma trial

A donor centre in Scunthorpe will be one of 14 new locations used to urgently collect blood plasma for COVID-19 treatment trials and potential general use in hospitals.

It is expected to open in mid-December at Berkeley House at Berkeley Business Centre on Doncaster Road, with final staff recruitment and training, along with health and safety checks, already underway.

The NHS trials of convalescent plasma are the largest randomised controlled trials for this treatment of COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is the antibody-rich plasma of people who’ve had coronavirus.

This can be transfused into people who are struggling to develop their own immune response. The antibodies could slow or stop the virus spreading, which could save lives.

The creation of the 14 additional pop-up centres are in areas with high numbers of potential donors and will be supported by recruiting a further 373 donor carers and nurses.

Inside the new blood plasma donation centre in Scunthorpe. | Photo: NHSBT

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is leading the collection programme and was already collecting plasma in its 23 permanent blood donor sets and in five pop-up locations prior to this.

The new locations will also mean that 80% of potential donors across England can reach one of the centres within 45 minutes.

There is promising evidence for the effectiveness of convalescent plasma, but before general use patient benefit needs to be demonstrated in randomised control trials – see here for more information including how to volunteer.

The other new donor centres will be in the following locations:

  • Ashford
  • Bolton
  • Chichester
  • Chelmsford
  • Coventry
  • Croydon
  • Huddersfield
  • Northampton
  • Reading
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Tottenham
  • Woking
  • Wolverhampton

Meanwhile, NHSBT confirmed in November that a COVID survivor from Romford became the first person in England to receive convalescent plasma treatment and then donate it himself.

John Curtis became the first person in England to receive convalescent plasma treatment and then donate it himself. | Photo: NHSBT

John Curtis, a 58-year-old taxi driver, donated at the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre on November 4. He may even pass on antibodies from his own donor, meaning the original transfusion reached two people.

His antibodies could help save the lives of people who still have the virus.