Administering convalescent plasma to patients with hematologic cancer and COVID-19 provided a survival benefit, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.

The study authors noted that prior research showed a higher risk of death from COVID-19 among patients with hematologic cancers. The authors wanted to determine if convalescent plasma therapy could provide a survival benefit in these patients.

The researchers retrospectively analyzed data from the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19) registry and evaluated the association between convalescent plasma treatment and 30-day mortality in hospitalized adults with hematologic cancers and COVID-19.

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From March 17, 2020, to January 21, 2021, there were 966 patients with hematologic cancers who were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. In all, 143 patients had received convalescent plasma therapy, and 823 had not.

With a median follow-up of 30 days, 223 patients (23.1%) had died of COVID-19. The crude mortality rate was lower in recipients of convalescent plasma than in nonrecipients — 13.3% (19/143) and 24.8% (204/823), respectively.

After adjustment for potential confounding factors, convalescent plasma treatment was associated with significantly improved 30-day mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 0.60; 95% CI, 0.37-0.97; P =.03), and this remained significant after propensity score matching (HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.29-0.92; P =.03).

The crude mortality rate was significantly lower in plasma recipients among the 338 patients admitted to the intensive care unit (HR for propensity score-matched comparison, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.20-0.80) and among the 227 patients who required mechanical ventilatory support (HR for propensity score-matched comparison, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.14-0.72).

“Notably, despite superior survival in the convalescent plasma group, there were considerably more sepsis and respiratory complications in this group,” the study authors wrote. “This finding likely reflects a higher severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection rather than complications from the treatment, although this possibility cannot be entirely excluded.”

“If this finding should hold up in prospective clinical trials, convalescent plasma would be, to our knowledge, the first COVID-19 intervention with a survival benefit in this high-risk population,” the authors concluded.

Disclosures: This research was supported by grants from pharmaceutical companies, foundations, government agencies, and others. Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Thompson MA, Henderson JP, Shah PK, et al. Association of convalescent plasma therapy with survival in patients with hematologic cancers and COVID-19. JAMA Oncol. Published online June 17, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.1799