Vietnam seeks plasma donors to save Covid-19 infectees

By Chi Le   August 6, 2020 | 12:04 am PT
Vietnam seeks plasma donors to save Covid-19 infectees
A medical staff arranges sample tubes for Covid-19 test in Da Nang, August 3 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.
The Health Ministry has approved research into using plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients to treat the rising number of new outbreak infectees.

Dr. Van Dinh Trang, lead research coordinator, said the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi began to recruit donors starting Monday.

Those eligible for plasma donation are former Covid-19 patients who had fully recovered 14 days post discharge. Donors should be between 18 and 65 years old, weigh over 50 kg if male and over 45 kg if female. All will undergo free hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis screening.

As of Wednesday, five volunteers had registered to donate their plasma in a process similar to giving blood, including a doctor at the hospital.

The first batch of collected plasma will be allocated to patients in Da Nang City, now the country’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot with 192 infectees. At least nine Covid-19 patients related to the Da Nang outbreak have succumbed to the disease, with many others in critical condition.

Recipients of donated plasma will include those confirmed Covid-19 positive via RT-PCR testing, aged 18 to 75 years old.

Pathogen neutralizing proteins or antibodies in the blood of recovered infectees could boost the immunity of patients following transmission, hopefully killing the virus.

The use of human plasma, the liquid carrier component of blood, in Covid-19 treatment is currently applied in some European countries, China and South Korea.

Plasma treatment has yet to be carried out in Vietnam, necessitating prior evaluation by the local medical establishment.

"There is no vaccine or current treatment for Covid-19. Experimental drugs like antiviral, ARV, and anti-helminthic drugs have not proven effective. Therefore, the use of plasma is expected to save the critically ill from death," Trang said.

Those wanting to donate their plasma are able to voluntarily register with the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi.

"We call on those who have recovered from Covid-19 to join hands with health authorities to heal patients currently fighting the novel coronavirus," said Trang.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said Wednesday that the number of infectees in Vietnam is expected to rise as the second Covid-19 wave peaks in the next 10 days.

Unlike the outbreak at Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital a couple months ago, the one at Da Nang Hospital has had a much wider reach, spreading to several other hospitals to infect patients, family members and medical staff, Son said.

Many confirmed patients suffer underlying illnesses, increasing their risk of fatality.

Vietnam has recorded 717 Covid-19 infections to date, 327 of them active.

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