The lack of effective treatments against the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has led to the exploratory use of convalescent plasma for treating COVID-19. Case reports and case series have shown encouraging results. This study investigated SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and epidemiological characteristics in convalescent plasma donors, to identify criteria for donor selection.
Recovered COVID-19 patients, aged 18-55 years, who had experienced no symptoms for more than 2 weeks, were recruited. Donor characteristics such as disease presentations were collected and SARS-CoV-2 N-specific IgM, IgG, and S-RBD-specific IgG levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Whereas levels of N-specific IgM antibody declined after recovery, S-RBD-specific and N-specific IgG antibodies increased after 4 weeks from the onset of symptoms, with no significant correlation to age, sex, or ABO blood type. Donors with the disease presentation of fever exceeding 38.5°C or lasting longer than 3 days exhibited higher levels of S-RBD-specific IgG antibodies at the time of donation. Of the 49 convalescent plasma donors, 90% had an S-RBD-specific IgG titer of ≥1:160 and 78% had a titer of ≥1:640 at the time of plasma donation. Of the 30 convalescent plasma donors, who had donated plasma later than 28 days after the onset of symptoms and had a disease presentation of fever lasting longer than 3 days or a body temperature exceeding 38.5°C, 100% had an S-RBD-specific IgG titer of ≥1:160 and 93% had a titer of ≥1:640.
This study indicates that the S-RBD-specific IgG antibody reaches higher levels after 4 weeks from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. We recommend the following selection criteria for optimal donation of COVID-19 convalescent plasma: 28 days after the onset of symptoms and with a disease presentation of fever lasting longer than 3 days or a body temperature exceeding 38.5°C. Selection based on these criteria can ensure a high likelihood of achieving sufficiently high S-RBD-specific IgG titers.