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Evaluating large-scale blood transfusion therapy for the current Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

Abstract

Under the 10% case-hospitalization rate estimated for Liberia in September 2014, large-scale CP therapy is expected to save 3586 lives by October 2015 (3.1% mortality reduction; 95% confidence interval [CI], .52%-4.5%). Under a higher 30% hospitalization rate, CP transfusions are expected to save 151 lives (0.9% of the total; 95% CI, .21%-11%).

To combat the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa, the World Health Organization urged the rapid evaluation of convalescent whole blood (CWB) and plasma (CP) transfusion therapy. However, the feasibility and likely impacts of broad implementation of transfusions are yet unknown.

We extended an Ebola virus transmission model published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include hospital-based convalescent donations and transfusions. Using recent epidemiological estimates for EVD in Liberia and assuming that convalescent transfusions reduce the case-fatality rate to 12.5% (range, 7.5%-17.5%), we projected the impacts of a countrywide ramp-up of transfusion therapy.

Transfusion therapy for EVD is a low-cost measure that can potentially save many lives in West Africa but will not measurably influence the prevalence. Under all scenarios considered, CP transfusions are predicted to achieve greater reductions in mortality than CWB.

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