Blood from cured Covid-19 patients is medicine - study

Friday April 10 2020

 

By TONNY ABET

A team of researchers from China have discovered that transfusing critically ill Covid-19 patients with blood from those who recovered from the disease could be a viable treatment.

In the study published on Tuesday in American Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 10 severely sick patients who underwent transfusion using the said blood recovered.

The report said the Covid-19 patients who were Chinese, were critically ill but began to show significant improvements after a single dose.

“All symptoms in the 10 patients, especially fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain, disappeared or largely improved within one day to three days upon convalescent plasma (CP) transfusion,” the report reads in part.

CP refers to a colourless liquid in blood which is obtained from one who has recovered from an infectious disease and considered to be rich, especially in antibodies.

The researchers said patients did not react negatively to the transfusion.

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“CP was well tolerated and could significantly increase or maintain the neutralising antibodies [against Covid-19] at a high level, leading to disappearance of disease,” the report further read.

These results, according to researchers, indicate that CP can serve as a promising rescue option for severe Covid-19.

There are still no approved drugs or vaccine for treating coronavirus according to World Health Organisation.

Uganda has 53 cases of Covid-19, according to data from Ministry of Health. By press time, the WHO data showed that at least 88,965 had died from the disease amid 1.5 million cases globally.

What Uganda Virus Research Institute says
Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, a clinical immunologist and director of Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), said this is a promising method, adding that the institute intends to do local studies.

“Convalescent Plasma (CP) transfusion is a method that has been used for long in Ebola, Tetanus and the rest. Our scientists are pursuing this idea,” he said.

The scientist said getting CP from blood requires very complex instruments that are not in Uganda. “If it is to be done, you must have the technique to purify the blood. It needs to be done by companies that have experience in purifying the blood, otherwise you may cause harm and infect others,” the expert said.
Mr Kaleebu said UVRI had engaged foreign companies during the past epidemics on the need to purify blood and extract CP.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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