Davao City hospital prepares plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients

Vina Araneta-Pilapil, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 06 2020 01:46 PM

Davao City hospital prepares plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients 1
A medical officer checks donated blood and plasma samples as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Erlangen, Germany, April 7, 2020. Andreas Gebert, Reuters/File 

DAVAO CITY - A state-run hospital here said Tuesday it was preparing to use plasma treatment for patients with severe symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has obtained a machine for the therapy that transfuses plasma from survivors of the respiratory disease, in hopes that the donor's antibodies will speed up the recipient's recovery, said the hospital's director, Dr. Leopoldo Vega. 

The hospital is only waiting for a private supplier in Manila to deliver reagents needed for separating plasma from blood cells, he said. 

"'Pag magdating 'yon, I’m sure puwede kaming makakuha ng mga pasyenteng nagka-COVID na puwedeng mag-donate ng kanilang plasma. We are set to go," Vega told ABS-CBN News. 

(Once that arrives, I'm sure we can get patients who survived COVID and can donate their plasma.) 
Convalescent plasma has been proven "effective and life-saving" against other infectious diseases, including rabies and diphtheria, Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies program, earlier said. 

"Because what hyperimmune globulin does is it concentrates the antibodies in a recovered patient. You are essentially giving the new victim's immune system a boost of antibodies to hopefully get them through the very difficult phase," he told reporters. 

"So it must be given at the right time, because it mops up the virus in the system, and it just gives the new patient's immune system a vital push at the time it needs it. But it has to be carefully timed and it's not always successful." 

Davao Region as of Tuesday had 154 COVID-19 cases, including 84 patients who recovered, said the health department. 

The southern region records an average of 3 new cases daily, said Vega. 

"Andito pa rin yung virus (the virus is still here). We haven’t eradicated... We should not put our guards down," he added. 

With a report from Agence France-Presse