US-based HCA Healthcare has announced the participation of 172 of its affiliated hospitals in a national study of convalescent plasma as a potential treatment for Covid-19 patients.

Convalescent plasma therapy approach involves collection of plasma from people who recovered from the viral infection.

HCA Healthcare will contribute to the study using its clinical research expertise and national hospital network for quick collection and testing of plasma.

As part of the project, HCA Healthcare hospitals are seeking plasma donors in 20 states.

The study is supported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and led by the Mayo Clinic, noted HCA Healthcare.

HCA Healthcare chief medical officer Dr Jonathan Perlin said: “As a learning healthcare system that serves communities across the country, we are proud to play a part in broader global public health initiatives, including this and other research, to identify effective Covid-19 treatments.

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“We’re encouraging the communities HCA Healthcare serves to join us in this important effort to help identify donors.”

Sarah Cannon Research Institute, a clinical research organisation that performs community-based trials, is supporting HCA Healthcare’s participation in the Covid-19 study.

Sarah Cannon Research Institute clinical operations president and chief medical officer Howard Burris said: “We are aggressively working with our research partners to assess a variety of clinical studies for the diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19.

“The convalescent plasma study is focused on treating patients currently facing severe cases of Covid-19, by arming their immune systems with plasma that is rich in virus-fighting antibodies from individuals who have recently recovered.”

Previously, convalescent plasma was used to help prevent and treat infection during outbreaks of other coronaviruses, including such as SARS-1 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).