REGINA -- As research into a potential vaccine for COVID-19 continues around the world, work is being done here in Saskatchewan on a potential treatment for the virus, using convalescent blood plasma.

"The theory is that if you give plasma that contains specific infection fighting anti-bodies to people who are sick with the infection, that they may benefit from those anti-bodies and recover more quickly from their infection," Dr. Oksana Prokopchuk-Gauk, transfusion medicine physician with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, explained.

The treatment is being focused on patients in hospital with COVID-19, who are requiring oxygen, but not in need of a breathing tube.

The hope is that the treatment will be able to reduce the risk of death.

The CONCOR-1 clinical trial started in Canada in May. 112 patients across the country have been enrolled in the study. There are 50 hospitals in Canada taking part in the trial, including in Regina and Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan had its first patient enrolled this week in Regina.

"With the rise in COVID cases, it’s nice that we are able to offer this trial for Saskatchewan patients, should they want to participate in the CONCOR-1 study," Dr. Prokopchuk-Gauk said.

Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer said these studies are important in finding a way to treat the Coronavirus, which currently has no known treatments.

"While some show benefits, they have to be studied in a way that [shows] what additional benefit will occur from, for example, convalescent plasma," Dr. Saqib Shahab said on Thursday.

The clinical trial is in its early stages with a target of 1,200 patients country-wide.

"It’s a large trial and so there is a planned interim analysis after the first 600 [patients] have been enrolled, but we don’t know the results yet at this time," Dr. Prokopchuk-Gauk said.

Donations of blood plasma are key to the study as well.

Dr. Prokopchuk-Gauk encourages anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 in the province to contact Canadian Blood Services about donating plasma.