AN OFFICIAL from the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) revealed that convalescent plasma therapy is not being considered by the hospital as one of its treatment options for patients with coronavirus disease (Covid-19), considering its lack of existing guidelines and concrete evidence for its effectiveness.
SPMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Marie Yvette Barez said in One Davao on Covid-19 Virtual Presser on Thursday, July 30, the hospital is not considering conducting blood plasma therapy to its Covid-19 patients because the Department of Health (DOH) has not yet issued any guidelines endorsing it.
"We still need to have systematic documentation and analysis of these anecdotal experiences that they have," Barez said, adding there is still no concrete proof that it helped in the patients’ recovery from the disease.
The SPMC official had also cited a June 2020 medical report from The Lancet, a medical journal, stating that the plasma therapy did not result in a “statistically significant improvement in the time to clinical improvement of the patient within 28 days.”
"That's why we did not recommend giving this plasma here in the hospital," she said.
Barez said this concerning a report of selling blood plasma to Covid-19 patients in Cebu and Manila.
In a July 9 report of SunStar Cebu, DOH-Central Visayas condemned the sale of blood plasma to patients and the illegal trade that reportedly has been happening in Cebu City and some private hospitals.
Selling blood plasma is discouraged as it taints the culture of blood donation, which must be done voluntarily, said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-Central Visayas spokesperson for Covid-19 updates.
Barez, when asked by SunStar Davao, said the hospital management has not reported any incident within the hospital. But she said it is unlikely to happen in the city, considering that aside from the hospital having no policy on it, SPMC is also the only Covid-19 designated hospital in the city and they don’t consider this method of therapy to Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a radio interview on Monday, July 27, she is also aware that such trade is happening in some parts of the country but not in Mindanao.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Covid-19 convalescent plasma can be made available on an experimental basis through local production provided that ethical and safety criteria are met for its preparation and use.
WHO pointed out that a detailed risk assessment must always be conducted to ensure that the blood service has sufficient capability to safely collect, process, and store the specific blood components in a quality-assured manner in compliance with established standards and requirements for plasma for transfusion.