Philippines: Preparing for Blood Plasma Experimental Treatment for Severe Cases of COVID-19
Some countries and cities around the world such as New York, Houston, and China are already trying to use blood plasma treatment to combat the Coronavirus Disease or COVID-19. Since the virus is yet to have a cure or a vaccine, some organizations all over the globe are already considering to test if the blood plasma or the convalescent plasma from patients who recovered from COVID-19 can actually help.
What is Blood Plasma or Convalescent Plasma?
The blood plasma or the convalescent plasma is the liquid part of the blood. It is being collected from patients who have recovered from the infection since it contains antibodies that might help other patients fight the same virus.
Convalescent plasma has been previously used as a potential treatment during the emergence and fast spread of new diseases or infections that still have no treatments or vaccine. Historically, the use of plasma has been helpful during past epidemics such as H1N1 influenza, 2003 SARS-CoV-1, and the 2012 MERS-COV epidemic.
Blood Plasma/Convalescent Plasma Treatment in China
China’s use of convalescent plasma to combat the Coronavirus Disease or COVID-19 started in February this year. Infusions of blood plasma from people who have recovered from the disease were used to treat the patients who were still battling the infection.
Blood Plasma/Convalescent Plasma Treatment in the US
On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed doctors to use plasma from the patients who have already recovered and use it to treat those who are seriously ill or are suffering from life-threatening COVID-19 infection. This has been made possible under their emergency approval system.
In order for the doctors to use the convalescent plasma treatment for their COVID-19 patients, they have to apply first on FDA which will then review their requests. The FDA makes decisions on a case-to-case basis before allowing the use of plasma on patients.
Organizations within the United States such as the American Red Cross and the New York Blood Center (NYBC) are already helping in identifying prospective donors, collecting donations, and managing distributions.
And just this April 3, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made an update on their news release which they made public on March 24, 2020. Included in their update is a statement from HHS Secretary Alex Azar:
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the FDA is launching a new national effort to bring blood-related therapies for COVID-19 to market as fast as possible.”
“The FDA had played a key role in organizing a partnership between industry, academic institutions, and government agencies to facilitate expanded access to convalescent plasma,” said the FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D..
Philippines also preparing to use Convalescent Plasma Treatment
With other countries already conducting trials for the use of blood plasma to battle the Coronavirus Disease, our country is already preparing to use the same experimental treatment. The Philippine General Hospital (PGH), one of the country’s referral hospitals for COVID-19, is already asking for blood plasma donations from patients who have already fully recovered from the disease.
According to Dr. Jonas Del Rosario, Spokesperson of the PGH, the hospital’s hematology and pathology divisions are looking into convalescent plasma therapy, since there’s still no known cure for COVID-19.
Here are some details:
- This convalescent plasma experimental treatment is for severely ill COVID-19 patients who are suffering from respiratory distress
- Only the COVID-19 patients who have fully recovered will be accepted as blood plasma donors
- Fully recovered COVID-19 patients who wish to donate should have already been discharged from the hospital or are feeling well
- Fully recovered COVID-19 patients who would like to become donors should also test negative for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). It should be two (2) weeks since they tested negative of the virus, just to be sure.
- Potential blood plasma donors should also be healthy
- Potential donors will also have to undergo and pass the blood donation standards
Want to Donate Blood Plasma?
Fully recovered COVID-19 patients who would like to help by donating blood plasma may contact Dr. Sandy Maganito via 09178053207.
As for the Rest of Us, Let’s Do Our Part
The use of Convalescent Plasma for treatment is still experimental. At the moment, the Coronavirus Disease or COVID-19 has still no approved cure or vaccine. As the government, other organizations, scientists, medical professionals, and the rest of the frontliners continue to do their part for all of us to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, let us also proudly do ours by following the guidelines implemented by our government. Surely, with the combined efforts from all of us, we will win this fight against the COVID-19.