80 coronavirus patients benefit from plasma therapy; 18 hospitals take part in study

A research study is going on with the participation of 18 hospitals across the Kingdom about the effective use of convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus infected persons because of its ability to boost the fight against the virus.

Dr. Hani Al-Hashimi, director of oncology center at King Fahd Hospital in Dammam, said in a press conference here on Tuesday that more hospitals have expressed their interest to participate and interact with the study. More than 80 coronavirus patients have benefited from this plasma therapy, and there are more than 400 donors have come forward to cooperate with the initiative,” he said.

Dr. Al-Hashimi, a consultant oncologist, hematologist and stem cell transplant, said that antibodies are exactly what we are looking for in those recovering from coronavirus disease, as the research team started work in this study from the beginning of the pandemic. People who have recovered from coronavirus have antibodies — proteins the body uses to fight off infections — to the disease in their blood.

“The research team is working to get approval for their studies by the research committees in the General Administration of Research at the Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority to obtain a final result in terms of safety and effectiveness of treatment,” he said.

Dr. Al-Hashimi said that the research team started work in April after obtaining approval to expand the scope of the study in the regions of Riyadh, Eastern Province, Makkah and Madinah to prepare health facilities that wish to join the research. “The research consisted of two parts: the first is concerned with blood plasma and extraction of plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus disease, and aims to benefit from the antibodies of the recovered patients.”

Dr. Al-Hashimi said the second segment of the study depends on giving plasma to the right person according to specific requirements for patients in the intensive care and critical units. He stated that if the chosen patient conforms to the conditions of the study, he will be provided with plasma and then his samples will be taken. There will be medical follow up on a daily basis, with some periodic laboratory tests and x-rays to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.