Key Points

  • As a proof of concept, convalescent COVID-19 plasma represents an interesting approach in B-cell depleted patients with protracted COVID-19

  • Convalescent COVID-19 plasma induces an decrease of temperature and inflammatory parameters within one week associated with oxygen weaning.

Anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies are widely used for the treatment of hematological malignancies or autoimmune disease but may be responsible for a secondary humoral deficiency. In the context of COVID-19 infection, this may prevent the elicitation of a specific SARS-CoV-2-antibody response. We report a series of 17 consecutive patients with profound B-cell lymphopenia and prolonged COVID-19 symptoms, negative IgG-IgM SARS-CoV-2 serology and a positive RNAemia measured by digital PCR who were treated with four units of COVID-19 convalescent plasma. Within 48 hours following transfusion, all patients except one experienced an amelioration of their clinical symptoms. The inflammatory syndrome abated within a week. Only one patient who needed mechanical ventilation for severe COVID-19 disease died of bacterial pneumonia. SARS-CoV-2 RNAemia decreased to below the sensitivity threshold in 9 out of 9 evaluated patients. Analysis of virus-specific T-cell responses using T-cell enzyme linked immunoSpot (ELISPOT) assay was analyzed before convalescent plasma transfusion in 3 patients. All showed a conserved SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response and poor cross-response to other coronaviruses. No adverse event was reported. In COVID-19 patients unable to mount a specific humoral response to SARS-CoV-2, convalescent plasma with anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies appears to be a very promising approach in the context of protracted COVID-19 symptoms.

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