China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment
This photo taken on February 16, 2020 shows a man (R) who has recovered from the COVID-19 coronavirus infection donating plasma in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province, aimed at curing infected patients in severe and critical conditions. The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,770 after 105 more people died, the National Health Commission said February 17.
AFP/STR
China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment
(Agence France-Presse) - February 18, 2020 - 8:38am

BEIJING, China — Chinese health officials Monday urged patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood so that plasma can be extracted to treat others who are critically ill.

Drugmakers are racing to develop a vaccine and treatment for the epidemic, which has killed 1,770 people and infected over 70,500 people across China.

Plasma from patients who have recovered from a spell of pneumonia triggered by COVID-19 contains antibodies that can help reduce the virus load in critically ill patients, an official from China's National Health Commission told a press briefing Monday.

"I would like to make a call to all cured patients to donate their plasma so that they can bring hope to critically ill patients," said Guo Yanhong, who heads the NHC's medical administration department.

Eleven patients at a hospital in Wuhan -- the epicentre of the disease -- received plasma infusions last week, said Sun Yanrong, of the Biological Center at the Ministry of Science and Technology. 

"One patient (among them) has already been discharged, one is able to get off the bed and walk and the others are all recovering," she said.

The call comes days after China's state-owned medical products maker reported successful results from its trial at Wuhan First People's Hospital.

China National Biotec Group Co. said in a post on its official WeChat account that severely ill patients receiving plasma infusions "improved within 24 hours".

The World Health Organization said exploring the use of plasma as a treatment for the novel coronavirus was "important", but cautioned it needed to be done "with safety".

"It is a very important area of discovery," head of WHO's emergencies programme Michael Ryan told reporters in Geneva, pointing out that plasma had proven effective in saving lives when combatting a range of different diseases.

"It is a very valid way to explore therapeutics, especially when we don't have vaccines and we don't have specific anti-virals," he said.

His colleague Sylvie Briand, who heads WHO's Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness division, meanwhile cautioned that plasma-based treatments could be difficult to scale up to reach large numbers of patients, and stressed the need to carefully follow safety protocols.

"With blood products you can also transmit other diseases, so the protocol ... is very important," she told reporters.

Sun stressed that "clinical studies have shown that infusing plasma (from recovered patients) is safe and effective." 

Blood donors will undergo a test to ensure that they are not carrying the virus, said Wang Guiqiang, chief physician at Peking University First Hospital.

"Only plasma is taken, not all the blood," he said. 

"Other components of the blood including red blood cells and platelets will be infused back into the donors."

2019-NCOV CHINA COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 25, 2020 - 4:10pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

September 25, 2020 - 4:10pm

The Department of Health reports 2,630 new cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national tally to 299.361.

69 have succumbed to the deadly virus while 494 have recovered. 

September 25, 2020 - 7:14am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 978,448 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

At least 31,975,020 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,891,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

September 24, 2020 - 5:47pm

Israel toughens its coronavirus measures as a second nationwide lockdown now nearing its second week failed to bring down the world's highest infection rate.

The new rules will close the vast majority of workplaces, shutter markets and further limit prayers and demonstrations. 

"Over the past two days, we've heard from experts that if we don't take immediate and harsh measures, we'll reach an abyss," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says. — AFP 

September 24, 2020 - 4:13pm

The Department of Health on Thursday reports 2,180 additional COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, raising the national caseload to 296,755.

The DOH also confirms 580 new recoveries, pushing the total reported recoveries to 231,928. The country's death toll now stands at 5,127 with 36 newly-reported deaths.

Total active case (net of COVID-19 deaths and recoveries) in the country is now at 59,700.

September 24, 2020 - 7:26am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 971,677 people since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Wednesday.

At least 31.6 million cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,641,500 are now considered recovered.

The number of cases in Europe topped five million, with a total of 5,000,421  for 227,130 deaths. — AFP

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