Blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors under study as potential cure
Marje Pelayo • March 26, 2020 • 745
MANILA, Philippines – Countries are racing against time to find a cure for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the number of infected patients soars worldwide.
As of today, there is still no known cure for COVID-19.
Scientists from various countries are studying the possibility of using a COVID-19 survivor’s blood to treat other coronavirus patients.
The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) just recently authorized an experimental procedure which injects the plasma of people who overcame the virus into current patients in hopes of obtaining positive results.
“The FDA also authorized an experimental procedure by the New York State Department of Health, where we, the Department of Health, actually takes plasma from people who are infected, who have the antibodies, and we’ll try putting that plasma into a person who is still struggling with the disease, hoping that the antibodies make a difference,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
New York City in the US is facing an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases with more than 580 deaths and more than 45,000 positive cases.
The procedure, called “convalescent plasma transfusion”, extracts blood plasma from survivors of the coronavirus disease and infuses it to currently COVID-19 positive patients.
The similar procedure was used during the H1N1 influenza, also known as “Spanish flu”, outbreak in 1918 which caused the death of 50 million to 100 million people; measles, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
These diseases are caused by virulent viruses.
In China, a group of doctors just recently tested this kind of treatment on 10 COVID-19 positive patients.
They noticed the rapid increase of patients’ antibodies and in just a weeks’ time, the virus became undetected among 7 patients.
They are now planning to do the same with a larger number of patients.
But the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says a lot of study must be done before such method is adopted locally.
Authorities said it would take a year or more to prove the effectiveness of vaccines being developed against COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public against buying and selling of blood plasma taken from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) survivors.
DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is a high health risk in buying blood plasma from unverified sellers.
“May mga sakit na maaaring maisalin galing diyan sa mga dugo na binebenta natin (Blood that are sold could contain diseases that can be transmitted). Ito po ang mga (these are) transmissible infections through the blood. This is very risky kasi magkakasakit ang pagbibigyan natin ng mga dugong ito (because it could sicken the recipient),” she said.
The DOH has received reports of recovered COVID-19 patients selling blood plasma at P80,000 per bag in Cebu City. Vergeire said there is no guarantee the blood plasma underwent proper evaluation to ensure that it is safe for blood transfusion.
Vergeire said blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors contains antibodies that can help fight the infection as well as boost the immune system of COVID-19 patients. However, COVID-19 survivors need to undergo proper screening in qualified hospitals and blood centers that are conducting convalescent plasma therapy.
“Kaya nga ayaw natin na pinagbebenta o ayaw nating pinababayaran ang dugo. Gusto natin na inii-screen muna natin ang mga pasyente bago sila makapagbigay ng dugo para maiwasan ang mga ganitong risks (That is why we do not want these blood plasma to be sold. We want to screen the patients first before donation to avoid risks),” she said.
The Health Department also discourages COVID-19 survivors from selling their blood plasma and donate them instead. A website called, plasmangpagasa.com, has been launched for COVID-19 survivors to register and donate their blood.
Meanwhile, DOH Region 7 has begun their investigation on the sale of blood plasma in their area. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
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