Background: The lack of definitive treatment or preventative options for COVID-19 led many clinicians early on to consider convalescent plasma (CCP) as potentially therapeutic. Regulators, blood centres and hospitals worldwide worked quickly to get CCP to the bedside. Although response was admirable, several areas have been identified to help improve future pandemic management. Materials and methods: A multidisciplinary, multinational subgroup from the ISBT Working Group on COVID-19 was tasked with drafting a manuscript that describes the lessons learned pertaining to procurement and administration of CCP, derived from a comprehensive questionnaire within the subgroup. Results: While each country’s responses and preparedness for the pandemic varied, there were shared challenges, spanning supply chain disruptions, staffing, impact of social distancing on the collection of regular blood and CCP products, and the availability of screening and confirmatory SARS-CoV-2 testing for donors and patients. The lack of a general framework to organize data gathering across clinical trials and the desire to provide a potentially life-saving therapeutic through compassionate use hampered the collection of much-needed safety and outcome data worldwide. Communication across all stakeholders was identified as being central to reducing confusion. Conclusion: The need for flexibility and adaptability remains paramount when dealing with a pandemic. As the world approaches the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic with rising rates worldwide and over 115 million cases and 2·55 million deaths, respectively, it is important to reflect on how to better prepare for future pandemics as we continue to combat the current one.
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