Covid-19 treatment

Convalescents’ plasma therapy on the cards

Mohammad Al Amin

6th May, 2020 10:13:58 printer

Convalescents’ plasma therapy on the cards

The country is trying to explore the protocol for treating the Covid-19 patients through using convalescents’ plasma – a treatment therapy being tried elsewhere in the world.

As there is no specific treatment for coronavirus infection, the health scientists across the globe are making efforts to create medicine and vaccine to resist the deadly virus.

According to the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of Bangladesh, like many countries of the world, the government is also trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic through various ways including providing treatment guideline to the country’s physicians.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has already formed a technical committee that has made a protocol for the trials of convalescent plasma therapy and submitted it to Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) for its consent.

Headed by Prof Dr MA Khan, Department of Hematology of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the technical committee also includes Prof Ahmedul Kabir of DMC’s Medicine Department, Prof Mazharul Hoque, head of Transfusion Medicine Department, and Saif Ullah Munshi, head of Virology Department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).

According to DGHS, its disease control unit discussed the issue on April 12 after submitting a report on whether to use the therapy in Bangladesh by Prof MA Khan.

Later on April 19, the technical committee has been formed to study the therapy and make the protocol within five days.

Talking to daily sun, the technical committee sources said they were studying the availability of tests to measure antibodies to coronavirus in recovered patients’ blood.

“After getting consent from BMRC, convalescent plasma from people who have already made recovery from covid-19 will be collected to carry out trial in treatment of coronavirus infection,” said Prof Saif Ullah, one of the top virologists of the country. 

Though plasma therapy is there for hundred years to treat several viral infections including Mumps, Measles, Flu and Hepatitis B infection, treatment of the covid-19 disease using the convalescent plasma therapy is still in experimental stage in the world, however, it the trials might yield a positive result.

The virologist also said they have already submitted the protocol, outlining the criteria of plasma donors and who will be eligible for the therapy.

According to the health scientists, in the method called convalescent plasma therapy, blood plasma from the recovered patients will be transfused into current patients with the hope the fresh antibodies will help fight the virus.

Small case studies suggest it may help reduce virus levels, and controlled trials are in progress in China, Europe and the United States to gather stronger evidence for a benefit. In Bangladesh, a group of doctors have started working on the method under the Directorate General of Health Services.

Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of the US recently has issued guidance to provide recommendations to healthcare providers and investigators on the administration and study of investigational convalescent plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 (Covid -19 convalescent plasma) during the public health emergency.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) is being studied for administration to patients with Covid -19.

An article published in Lancet recently said initial findings for convalescent plasma therapy for the treatment of Covid-19 are encouraging but have so far only come from two small studies done in China.

In plasma therapy, many donors are needed as the plasma from one donor can only be used to treat a few patients. In the USA, the Red Cross—in collaboration with the FDA—has published a call for donors, and each country will need to do similar if this therapy is to be used to treat the most severely ill patients.

“An additional use for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies isolated from plasma is the development of a concentrated therapy known as hyperimmune globulin, in which the antibodies from many donors are pooled. Such hyperimmune therapies could offer a more consistent and predictable therapeutic option, with companies such as Takeda and CSL Behring planning to test these therapies in clinical trials,” the lancet article added.

According to WHO, management of Covid-19 has mainly focused on infection prevention, case detection and monitoring and supportive care, however, no specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 treatment is recommended because of the absence of evidence.