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Recently recovered Covid-19 patients, such as UDA Holdings Covid-19 survivor Reza Huzairi Zainuddin, are coming forward to donate their blood plasma in hopes that it could be used to help other patients recover.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that the study on using recovered patient blood plasma as a treatment option was still in the early stages and the Health Ministry is still determining the effectiveness of the treatment.
It may take some time before the ministry can find strong evidence to use it. The ministry is studying the use of blood plasma by looking at the antibody content and so on.Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah via Malay Mail.
Using convalescent plasma – plasma from people convalescing (a.k.a recovering) – to treat illnesses isnâ€™t a new concept. For at least a century, doctors have been using the process to treat patients as far back as the Spanish flu in 1918.
More recently, the method has also been used for polio, measles, and SARS.
The rationale behind this is that once a person fully recovers from Covid-19, their blood contains antibodies (a blood protein produced in response to a specific foreign body in the blood) in its plasma that can attack the virus.
These antibodies can be extracted from a donorâ€™s blood and given to severely ill patients via transfusion with the hope that the donorâ€™s antibodies will help the severe patient recover.
There has been anecdotal evidence and new data that shows using convalescent plasma could be effective in treating patients with severe cases of Covid-19.
A study in the Scientific Journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, observed that the use of convalescent plasma in 10 adult patients with severe symptoms was safe and significantly improved their condition.
Several hospitals in the United States and the American Red Cross have also started requesting recovered Covid-19 patients to sign up and donate blood plasma for use in treatment of patients still infected.
Despite the anecdotal evidence that this treatment works, health authorities across the globe agree that there is still no conclusive evidence that convalescent plasma is an effective treatment for Covid-19.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, 12 recovered patients in Malaysia have come forward to donate their blood plasma and prior to doing so, the Health Ministry gave them counselling and had them undergo tests for bacterial infection.
After the counselling the Health Ministry will refer them to the National Blood Centre to take blood to conduct Covid-19 treatment studies using blood plasma.Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah via Malay Mail
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