Researchers seek blood plasma from ex-patients

Researchers seek blood plasma from ex-patients

Blood plasma is being sought from recovered Covid-19 patients as researchers look for potential ways to treat the infection.

It is believed that treatments using blood plasma may provide a breakthrough in the management of the global coronavirus pandemic, according to Yong Poovorawan, a medical professor in pediatric hepatology and also an expert in virology at Chulalongkorn University.

On his Facebook page, Dr Yong said his team is working on testing the efficacy of blood plasma in the treatment of the most severe Covid-19 infections and urged those who have recovered to come forward to donate blood.

The National Blood Centre at The Thai Red Cross Society is taking blood plasma donations from Covid-19 patients who have been discharged from hospital made a full recovery.

Those who volunteer will be tested for the virus 14-days prior to donating blood and must be between 17-60 years old and weigh more than 50kg.

It was earlier reported that Thongsuk Thongrat, the taxi driver who became the country's first documented sufferer of coronavirus, has been regularly donating his blood plasma after having recovered from the disease.

Doctors have given him a clean bill of health and Mr Thongsuk, 50, has since donated the blood plasma four times. Mr Thongsuk is believed to have contracted the virus from a Chinese tourist who hailed his taxi in central Bangkok early this year.

Dr Yong said on Sunday that plasma donations might present a life-saving solution. "You can be a hero in this," the veteran doctor said.

Thanarak Plipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said media reports have said the plasma has been used to cure severe cases of Covid-19 infections in China.

Plasma is a critical component in the treatment of many serious health problems. Along with water, salt, and enzymes, human plasma also contains important components including immunoglobulins (antibodies). The proteins and antibodies in plasma have frequently been used to create therapies for health conditions.

Dootchai Chaiwanichsiri, director of the National Blood Centre, said the plasma cure has emerged as an option for treating Covid-19 sufferers while a vaccine is developed.

In another development, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the Department of Disease Control is ordering 40,000 tablets of the anti-virus drug favipiravir from Japan, while the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) also ordered an additional 40,000 tablets from Japan, and 100,000 tablets from China.

He said favipiravir -- or Avigan as it is known in Japan -- is produced and sold in China as Favilavir.

"The 100,000 tablets that GPO had ordered from China and another 100,000 from Japan are arriving soon," he said, before adding that the drug has been used to treat over 300 patients across the country.

Mr Anutin said the extra orders were made to ensure Thailand has enough drugs to treat all patients. He added that it takes negotiations to be able to purchase a drug which is currently in high demand globally.

This remark came after he was criticised for deciding to buy the drug from China instead of accepting a donation from Japan. He said the offer from Japan "came later" and was "not settled".

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