NHSBT begins COVID vaccine antibody trial

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has started a research project in Birmingham to discover whether COVID vaccination produces a significant increase in antibodies. 

The study dubbed ‘C-Velvet’, involves 100 people who previously provided convalescent blood plasma after recovering from COVID-19. NHSBT is asking those who have previously donated to come forward and provide blood samples 28 days after they have received the second COVID vaccination.

Around 50 people have given samples so far, with the neutralising antibody levels to be compared against the antibody level from when they came in initially as plasma donors.  

Dr Lise Estcourt, Head of NHSBT’s Clinical Trials Unit, who is the study lead, said: “Previous small studies show people who’ve already had coronavirus generate a significantly higher antibody response to the vaccine – around 100 times higher or more. They also found an increase in the cross reactivity of the antibodies against different viral strains. Our C-Velvet study could have two benefits for potential treatments. We may identify plasma ‘super donors’ who provide the very high antibody levels needed for any trial of hyperimmune plasma. Secondly, our study could inform the development of monoclonal antibody therapies which react against more viral variants.” 

The study builds on two earlier pieces of research, that indicate that two doses of the vaccine produce antibodies.  

Minister for Innovation Lord Bethell, added: “The UK is home to a thriving industry for life sciences, research and development and the launch of the C-Velvet study will be an important addition to our immense quota of UK-based COVID-19 studies. These potential “super donors” could be invaluable for future COVID-19 treatments and trials to fight the virus and keep people safe. 

“I look forward to seeing what this study will bring to bolster our fast-growing knowledge of the virus and its weaknesses so we can all build back better.”