DOH: More studies needed for convalescent plasma therapy as COVID-19 treatment
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Department of Health (DoH) secretary Francisco Duque III, said that Hybrid Therapeutic Plasma Exchange and Convalescent Plasma Therapy still needs further studies from medical institutions before it can be fully adopted by the nation’s health agency as a scientific treatment against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The technique was recently unveiled by the Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital (CDUH) on Monday, June 22, 2020, as a first in the country.
Convalescent plasma therapy is based on a 2oth century therapeutic tool generally pooled under passive immunization, by which antigens and antibodies are taken from a donor organism to be injected into an ill organism to combat a disease the donor has successfully recovered from.
On the other hand, plasma exchange or plasmapheresis is often a treatment for autoimmune disease and works by replacing the person’s blood plasma with that of a donor’s.
The combination of two treatment is a new technique for fighting COVID-19. It now involves removing the plasma from a currently infected patient and then be replaced with plasma from donors -or individuals who have successfully recovered from COVID-19.
Their plasma now contains the antigens and antibodies to fight the rather new virus.
This technique was performed by CDUH on a patient, 68-year-old Ana Marie Clavano-Cruz, during a critical state and she later recovered from COVID-19 in 13 days.
Duque said this is a welcome development as no cure or vaccine has been developed against the deadly virus, and any solution is going to be essential in the fight against the pandemic.
He said the experiment has been done in other countries, but no conclusive data has been produced to sufficiently prove that convalescent plasma therapy can be an effective treatment for COVID-19.
“It is premature to give any conclusion or judgement to the efficacy to both plasma exchange therapy as well as the convalescent plasma therapy. As a matter of fact, there are already three hospitals that are engaged in some kind of clinical trial using convalescent plasma therapy. There have been a preliminary report of a positive outcome,” said Duque.
He said that this is the first time that Therapeutic Plasma Exchange is used for the critical patient, and the study of CDUH will prove a game-changer to finding a solution for the deadly virus.
The DOH Secretary said more data is needed to make a conclusion and more clinical trials to be conducted for the DOH to adopt the new technique.
Still, DOH will support the study and Duque has already instructed the Central Visayas regional DOH to help in the collaboration of CDUH with Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) to conduct more clinical trials for this innovation.
“I have instructed DOH-7 to collaborate with the private hospital on this proposed innovation, to come together, try to achieve breakthroughs in the clinical management of COVID-19 infections and save lives, prevent people from deteriorating and death,” said Duque. /bmjo
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