Research Fellow @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Resident Physician @ Mount Sinai Hospital

Transfusion reactions associated with COVID-19 convalescent plasma therapy for SARS-CoV-2

Transfusion reactions associated with COVID-19 convalescent plasma therapy for SARS-CoV-2

Background: Convalescent plasma (CP) for treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) has shown preliminary signs of effectiveness in moderate to severely ill patients in reducing mortality. While studies have demonstrated a low risk of serious adverse events, the comprehensive incidence and nature of the spectrum of transfusion reactions to CP is unknown. We retrospectively examined 427 adult inpatient CP transfusions to determine incidence and types of reactions, as well as clinical parameters and risk factors associated with transfusion reactions. Study Design and Methods: Retrospective analysis was performed for 427 transfusions to 215 adult patients with coronavirus 2019 (COVID‐19) within the Mount Sinai Health System, through the US Food and Drug Administration emergency investigational new drug and the Mayo Clinic Expanded Access Protocol to Convalescent Plasma approval pathways. Transfusions were blindly evaluated by two reviewers and adjudicated by a third reviewer in discordant cases. Patient demographics and clinical and laboratory parameters were compared and analyzed. Results: Fifty‐five reactions from 427 transfusions were identified (12.9% incidence), and 13 were attributed to transfusion (3.1% incidence). Reactions were classified as underlying COVID‐19 (76%), febrile nonhemolytic (10.9%), transfusion‐associated circulatory overload (9.1%), and allergic (1.8%) and hypotensive (1.8%) reactions. Statistical analysis identified increased transfusion reaction risk for ABO blood group B or Sequential Organ Failure Assessment scores of 12 to 13, and decreased risk within the age group of 80 to 89 years. Conclusion: Our findings support the use of CP as a safe, therapeutic option from a transfusion reaction perspective, in the setting of COVID‐19. Further studies are needed to confirm the clinical significance of ABO group B, age, and predisposing disease severity in the incidence of transfusion reaction events.


Neutralizing Antibody Responses in COVID-19 Convalescent Sera

Passive transfer of antibodies from COVID-19 convalescent patients is being used as an experimental treatment for eligible patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections. The United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidelines for convalescent plasma initially recommended target antibody titers of 160. We evaluated SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies in sera from recovered COVID-19 patients using plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNT) at moderate (PRNT50) and high (PRNT90) stringency thresholds. We found that neutralizing activity significantly increased with time post symptom onset (PSO), reaching a peak at 31–35 days PSO. At this point, the number of sera having neutralizing titers of at least 160 was approximately 93% (PRNT50) and approximately 54% (PRNT90). Sera with high SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels (>960 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay titers) showed maximal activity, but not all high-titer sera contained neutralizing antibody at FDA recommended levels, particularly at high stringency. These results underscore the value of serum characterization for neutralization activity.


Convalescent plasma treatment of severe COVID-19: a propensity score–matched control study

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a new human disease with few effective treatments. Convalescent plasma, donated by persons who have recovered from COVID-19, is the acellular component of blood that contains antibodies, including those that specifically recognize SARS-CoV-2. These antibodies, when transfused into patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, are thought to exert an antiviral effect, suppressing virus replication before patients have mounted their own humoral immune responses. Virus-specific antibodies from recovered persons are often the first available therapy for an emerging infectious disease, a stopgap treatment while new antivirals and vaccines are being developed. This retrospective, propensity score–matched case–control study assessed the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in 39 patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Oxygen requirements on day 14 after transfusion worsened in 17.9% of plasma recipients versus 28.2% of propensity score–matched controls who were hospitalized with COVID-19 (adjusted odds ratio (OR), 0.86; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.75–0.98; chi-square test P value = 0.025). Survival also improved in plasma recipients (adjusted hazard ratio (HR), 0.34; 95% CI, 0.13–0.89; chi-square test P = 0.027). Convalescent plasma is potentially effective against COVID-19, but adequately powered, randomized controlled trials are needed.

Research Profiles


Physician-scientist with extensive experience developing and translating nanotechnologies and biomedical optical technologies from the bench to clinic in areas of genetics, oncology, and cardiovascular diseases. Extensive experience in community building in healthcare innovation, research, medical, and physician-scientist communities through various leadership roles.


Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
Institute for Medical Engineering and Science

Research Fellow, MIT Innovation Initiative
Former Co-Director, MIT Hacking Medicine
Regional Director – Europe, MIT Hacking Medicine
Co-Director, MIT COVID-19 Challenge
Co-Director, MIT Hacking Racism Challenge

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139


Resident Physician, PGY-3,
Department of Pathology, Molecular and Cell-Based Medicine

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai Hospital
One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1194
New York, NY 10029