About 100 COVID-19 patients have been injected with blood plasma taken from recovered individuals, the ministry of health has also claimed.
This came within a study in which several top researchers and research centers in the Kingdom participated and involved 512 recovered individuals who donated their blood plasma. This large number of donors reflects the interest of society in studies as well as research.
Plasma is a blood derivative regularly used in hospitals as a daily routine procedure in intensive care units as well as operation rooms.
Plasma contains many components that help the human body recover from infection. Among them are antibacterial antibodies. This means that the plasma of a patient who has recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies against it. These antibodies will act as the first line of defense in the face of an infection in the absence of effective treatments and vaccines. This treatment has been used in China and other countries during the past few months; however, its efficacy has not been tested by documented clinical studies.
The ministry said the study was approved in early April and the research team started its mission to expand the range of health facilities capable of participating in the study from all health sectors in the Kingdom. They include the health ministry; National Guard hospitals; and King Faisal Specialist Hospital. In addition to hospitals of the armed forces and universities, and John Hopkins Healthcare (Aramco), as well as the private sector. The research team is constantly working to expand the scope of study in all regions of the Kingdom. This is also to prepare health facilities that wish to join and participate in this research.
The research, the ministry said, has two main parts: The first is about attracting donors; who have already recovered from the novel Coronavirus. They can also register directly on the study's official website or communicate via Twitter, email or phone. Many people (over 14,000) interested in the study have contacted the official introductory website. They included individuals who live in and outside the Kingdom.
Furthermore, a large number of people have donated their plasma in the main regions of study (Riyadh; the Eastern Province; Jeddah; and Madinah). According to the study protocols, a set of safety measures must be taken. Moreover, recording the details of the diagnosis and medical history of donors, as well as their vital sign. This is also with performing a preliminary test of antibodies on them. After applying these procedures successfully, the process of donating the plasma takes place accordingly. These procedures mainly aim to ensure the safety of both the donor and the receiver of the blood plasma. Afterwards, processing the plasma to ensure it is free of microbes and then it becomes ready to use.
The second part of the research is also about transferring plasma to patients who meet the conditions specified in the study. They receive a clinical follow-up and have blood tests and medical imaging performed on them. This is to assess the extent of their bodies' utilization of the plasma. The ministry stressed that the study's results are only preliminary and have shown no signs of a risk. This treatment is a safe procedure that could be very useful for patients, especially in early stages of the infection. However, the research requires some time in order to confirm the results of the study; which will be assessed and published in the near future.
The ministry added that the study involves 19 hospitals from different health sectors in the Kingdom. Furthermore, many other hospitals have expressed a strong desire to participate in the study.
The amount of plasma donated depends on the weight and health of the donor. Usually, collecting an amount of 400-700 ml. This amount gets a special technique in blood banks to get rid of microbes. The amount then gets equally divided into two plasma packs, and each pack is a single treatment dose. The patient receives one dose per day. Doses can be on a daily basis, for a maximum of five days.