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.
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.”//
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.