News in brief: Five Australian domestic plasma products to change; Long COVID thrombosis risk link to exercise capacity; Clues to how to best use fourth COVID-19 booster 

19 May 2022

Five Australian domestic plasma products to change

Manufacturing processes and names for five of Australia’s domestic plasma products will change in 2023 as CSL Behring expands its capacity for processing the growing local plasma collections.

Under the National Fractionation Agreement for Australia in place between the National Blood Authority and CSL Behring, the company will start using  global manufacturing processes at its facility at Broadmeadows in Victoria.

The transition will affect products Intragram 10 (10% intravenous immunoglobulin), Evogam (16% subcutaneous immunoglobulin), Albumex 4 and 20 (albumin 4% and 20%) and Prothrombinex-VF (prothrombin complex concentrate containing clotting factors II, IX and X).

The equivalent new products will be called Priviogen AU, Hizentra AU, Alburex 5 and 20 AU and Beriplex AU.

In a statement, the National Blood Authority says the new products will continue to be manufactured in Australia from Australian plasma, and will comply with the safety and efficacy requirements set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Long COVID thrombosis risk link to exercise capacity

Patients with so-called long COVID face an increased risk of abnormal blood clotting, the first study into correlations between the two conditions has found.

Strong links between acute COVID-19 and risk of thrombosis have already been established, quantified by elevated Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) Antigen (Ag):ADAMTS13 ratio.

And now UK researchers have found the same issue in patients experiencing difficulties with basic exercise more than 12 weeks after their COVID-19 infection.

They analysed blood markers of patients at a dedicated post-COVID clinic between July 2020 and May 2021.

An elevated VWF(Ag):ADAMTS13 ratio (≥1.5) was found in nearly one-third of the cohort and four times more likely in patients with impaired exercise capacity, they wrote in Blood Advances.

Absolute levels of Factor VIII and VWF in the blood were also significantly raised in people with impaired exercise capacity.

“These findings suggest possible ongoing microvascular/endothelial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of PCS and highlight a potential role for antithrombotic therapy in the management of these patients,” the researchers said.

Clues to how to best use fourth COVID-19 booster 

Fourth doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are well-tolerated and effective, but responses are muted in some people who maintain solid immunity from earlier vaccination or COVID-19 disease.

According to the latest data from the COV-BOOST trial, a fourth COVID vaccine dose substantially boosted both cellular and humoral immunity when given more than six months after the third dose.

However, Professor Saul Faust, trial lead and Director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, also highlighted that in some people who maintained high antibody and cellular responses before the fourth dose, including those with a history of COVID, the boosting effect of the fourth dose was limited.

“This suggests that there may be ceiling or maximum antibody level and T-cell response effects and that the fourth dose might not boost antibodies and cellular responses if the baseline level is high,” he told a Science Media Centre briefing.

“If the ceiling effect is replicated in other datasets, it may be due to host immunity, the vaccine or the vaccine dose, which needs to be explored in further trials and analyses,” he added.

Read more in Lancet Infectious Diseases

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