Men appear to produce much higher levels of antibodies to COVID-19 when infected with the disease, figures from the NHS suggest.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is currently seeking survivors to donate blood plasma as part of a trial to see if transfusions of convalescent plasma can help some of the sickest patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response.
The new figures show that 43% of male donors had plasma rich enough in antibodies for their plasma to be included in the trial, compared with 29% of women.
Professor David Roberts, associate director for blood donation at NHSBT, said: “We’d still like to hear from anybody who had coronavirus or the symptoms. More plasma donors are needed.
“But we’d especially want to hear from men. We test every plasma donation and men have higher antibody levels, which means we’re more likely to be able to use their plasma to save lives.
“Initially your immune system will try and fight off a virus with white blood cells. If you become more ill, your immune system needs to produce more antibodies that neutralise or kill the virus.
“Our studies, and many others around the world, show men with COVID-19 are more likely to become seriously ill than women. This makes them better plasma donors once they have recovered.”
Last week it was announced that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 through the national testing programme will be asked to join a blood plasma trial.
NHSBT said people confirmed with the virus through the “pillar 2” national testing programme will receive a text message 21 days after their result to see whether they are willing to donate plasma.
If the trial is successful, being treated with convalescent plasma could become a widespread practice in hospitals.