DMCH Haematologist Prof MA Khan warns all, saying plasma therapy is only for critical patients
Eight critically ill Covid-19 patients have so far been given convalescent plasma therapy under the supervision of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) formed to tackle the coronavirus situation in the country.
The head of Haematology Department at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Prof Dr MA Khan, who also heads the technical subcommittee on plasma therapy, spoke of the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Thursday, expecting promising results.
The patients are undergoing treatment at Mugda Medical College and Hospital, Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Central Police Hospital, Bangladesh Specialized Hospital, Square Hospitals Ltd, Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, and Impulse Hospital in the capital.
All the hospitals are collaborating with the Haematology Department of DMCH on the plasma therapy, Prof MA Khan said.
According to the authorities of Central Police Hospital, one of their two patients who received the therapy, has successfully recovered, he said.
Prof Khan, however, warned all, saying plasma therapy is only needed for critical patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and it is not necessary at all for other patients.
On May 16, DMCH began collecting plasma for experimental trials and research with the lack of drug therapies or vaccines for the highly contagious Covid-19. Two physicians, who recently recovered from Covid-19, donated the plasma samples.
A yellowish liquid component of blood, plasma carries blood cells in whole blood in suspension.
Blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 people is called convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma therapy aims to use antibodies from the blood of a recovered patient to treat those who are critically ill.
DMCH Director, Brig Gen AKM Nasir, said the plasma samples were collected by an Apheresis machine that separates out specific blood components and returns the remainder to the circulation.
"The National Technical Advisory Committee [NTAC] and the Bangladesh Medical Research Council [BMRC] have given ethical permission to collect plasma for conducting experimental research and study," he added.
Recovered patients urged to donate plasma
The DMCH authorities have urged all recovered patients to donate plasma so that it can be used for the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Prof MA Khan, also head of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit at DMCH, said there is a lack of enough plasma of various types of blood and they will continue to collect blood to extract plasma from Covid-19 survivors.
As permission for conducting the clinical trial has been granted, he said they have set a target of ending the trial within two months (though it is officially six months) and to analyze the feedback in two weeks.
However, Covid-19 convalescent plasma has not yet been approved for use by the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration and is now being regulated as an investigational product.
For decades, doctors have used plasma or even whole blood from recovered patients to treat the newly infected.
'Plasma therapy reduced Covid-19 deaths by 40% in Iran'
In Iran, plasma therapy has reduced Covid-19 deaths by 40%, reports Tehran Times, quoting doctors.
In March, a 100-year-old man in China was discharged from the hospital after recovering from Covid-19, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
Doctors used a variety of methods such as convalescent plasma therapy and traditional Chinese medicine for his treatment.
Plasma therapy was used for the first time in Bangladesh for a patient admitted to the Evercare Hospital in Dhaka on May 6 and DMCH's Dr Joardar Rakin Manzoor was the first to donate plasma then.
The government on April 17 formed the national technical subcommittee for plasma treatment under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
On April 28, the blood transfusion department at the DMCH decided to explore the convalescent plasma therapy option to treat Covid-19 patients and was directed by DGHS to supervise other hospitals across the country in this regard.
Covid-19, a severe acute respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus, has claimed 408 lives and infected 28,511 people in Bangladesh as of Thursday.