Effectiveness and feasibility of convalescent blood transfusion to reduce COVID-19 fatality ratio

Xi Huo, Xiaodan Sun, Nicola Bragazzi, Jianhong Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: As of December 2020, COVID-19 has spread all over the world with more than 81 million cases and more than 1.8 million deaths. The rapidly increasing number of patients mandates the consideration of potential treatments for patients under severe and critical conditions. Convalescent plasma (CP) treatment refers to the approach of infusing patients with plasma from recently recovered patients. CP appears to be a possible therapeutic option to manage patients suffering from severe or even lethal infectious disorders, in which 'traditional therapies' have failed to obtain any result. Methods: In the present study, we develop a mathematical model on the treatment-donation-stockpile dynamics for an optimal implementation of CP therapy to examine potential benefits and complications in the logistic realization of this therapy in a large-scale population. We parametrize the model with COVID-19 epidemics in Italy, and conduct scenario analyses to estimate outcomes of population-wide CP therapy and to examine the maximum number of CP donation processions per day. Results: Under the assumption that the efficacy of CP is 90%, we show that by the end of year 2020, initiating the population-wide CP therapy from April 2020 can save as many as 19 215 lives (ranging from 5000 to 28 000 depending on donor availability), while the demand for apheresis use is manageable in all scenarios: the maximum daily demand is 156 (ranging from 27 to 519 depending on donor availability) for the first outbreak wave and 1434 (ranging from 224 to 4817 depending on donor availability) for the second wave. Given that Italy has 61 centres with apheresis this maximum demand level corresponds to a daily average of 2.5 and 23.5 processions of CP donation being performed by each centre with respect to each outbreak wave. Conclusions: Our analyses show that population-wide CP therapy can contribute to curbing COVID-19-related deaths, and the logistic implementation is feasible for developed countries. The reduction of deaths can be very significant if the CP therapy is started earlier in the outbreak, and remains significant even if it is implemented during the outbreak peak time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number202248
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • convalescent blood transfusion
  • logistic feasibility
  • mathematical models
  • reduction of deaths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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