European Commission gives 24 grants to COVID-19 plasma projects

COVID-19 plasma, patient
© Евгений Вершинин

The projects will happen in 14 Member States and the United Kingdom, with €36 million in funding to get COVID-19 plasma to patients – boosting their immune response to the virus

The Emergency Support Instrument of the EU is the funding body for fighting COVID-19, which enabled the bloc to advance purchase vaccines and is behind efforts to link national Test and Trace Apps for increased protection.

Why is COVID-19 plasma important?

While it is not a cure, plasma is a crucial helper in the fight against COVID-19.

Plasma is the light yellow substance that makes up roughly 55% of your blood. It is mostly water, but it carries the antibodies that your body makes in response to any virus. The antibodies remain in your plasma for an unknown but crucial amount of time. Vaccine testing is heavily reliant on how the survivors have survived, working backward from that desired outcome.

Convalescent plasma is the attempt to transfer those biologically-equipped fighters from a successful war to a struggling battlefield, via blood transfusion to patients suffering severe COVID.

Medicinal companies are now able to purify antibodies from the plasma, to create immunoglobin.

The antibodies created by the virus fell by over half once six months had passed, in almost all the patients (94%), according to research released today by The Lancet. This means that it is more urgent to access plasma with antibodies as soon as possible.

What will the projects do?

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “When it comes to research on therapeutics for COVID-19, all options have to be explored to make sure that safe and effective treatments can be made available as quickly as possible. Thanks to the many applicants who have replied to the Commission’s call, plasma collection can now be increased through the selected projects, which will help in the use of convalescent plasma as a possible promising treatment.

“We are doing everything possible to provide citizens with safe and effective therapeutics against COVID-19.”

The money will go towards as many as 150 Blood Centres across Europe, which will then be able to process plasma donations in a faster and more efficient way. The more donations there are, the more plasma available. Plasmapheresis machines, collection kits, storage equipment, lab testing and organisational changes in blood centres will be possible with this funding infusion.

This antibody boost can make the difference between life and death in COVID patients, which led to calls for public donation in the UK back in October.


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