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Ever Got Pregnant? Your Blood Can't be Used for COVID-19 Treatment

Researchers on the on-going study to establish the efficacy of plasma treatment in Uganda told URN that women have been excluded because when they conceive the fetus produces a chemical which mixes with the blood and that if they are to use it they would need to do extra tests to establish the safety of their blood, which tests can’t be done in the country yet.

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Women who have recovered from COVID-19  but have ever  conceived or given birth have been excluded from those eligible to donate convalescent blood plasma for use in patients that newly develop the viral respiratory disease, even as they have antibodies against the disease.

Dr Winters Mutamba, one of the researchers at Makerere University who participated in the on-going study to establish the efficacy of plasma treatment in Ugandans who get the virus told URN that women have been excluded because when they conceive the fetus produces a chemical which mixes with the blood and that if they are to use it, they would need to do extra tests to establish the safety of their blood, which tests can’t be done in the country yet. 

//Cue in; “Every time you conceive…   

Cue out…currently doing that.”//

Uganda started treating people with convalescent plasma under clinical trial mode in September after collecting 127 units of blood which was viable for use. Since then they have been urging people to donate such that the treatment can be sustained. To treat each person, they require two units of blood meaning two donors are required for each patient, according to experts. 

Speaking at a meeting of scientists conducting COVID-19 research in Uganda on Wednesday, Dr John Lusiba who is coordinating the plasma study said results of the study are expected in two months but they still face challenges of having people come through to donate. 

To increase the amounts of plasma collected, Lusiba recommends that the programme be decentralized to have all regional blood banks receive donors since with wide-spread community transmission currently throughout the country, a lot more people would be requiring the treatment.

The best time to donate Lusiba says is 20 to 40 days after infection because the antibodies are usually at high levels.

//Cue in; “For programmatic plasma…     

Cue out... high antibody titers.” // 

However, while many countries in the west are using plasma as part of their treatment for COVID-19, in Africa not many countries have embraced this idea with many still offering the treatment under clinical trial settings. It’s only South Africa and Ghana that have made headway with Ghana having already developed guidelines for health workers to use in the treatment in hospitals.

Plasma has been used to treat both patients experiencing severe and mild COVID-19.  

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