(NEWS ROOM GUYANA) – The Ministry of Public Health is looking to use convalescent plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, to treat others who are infected with the disease.
The treatment has not been officially approved by the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) nor the US Food and Drug Administration.
As such, it is being treated as a trial.
“Guyana is poised to possibly join some of those trials,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Gordon Boyle said on Monday during the commissioning of the Ministry’s first Mobile COVID-19 Unit.
The plasma from recovered patients is said to contain antibodies developed by those persons to fight the disease. Health officials believe this can be used to help other patients whose immune system have not been able to work as fast.
“People who are overcoming the disease or who have been sick and they are now winning the battle –the plasma is rich is in antibodies which are things to fight the disease.
“Imagine you transfuse somebody with antibodies, it’s like giving them an immune boost and it stands to reason that it should be helpful to people who are struggling to overcome the disease,” Dr Boyle explained.
Doctors have been using convalescent plasma transfusions to help patients fight diseases as far back as the Spanish Flu of 1918. More recently, the procedure has been used in patients with SARS, Ebola, H1N1 and others.
Dr Boyle said representation has already been made to PAHO and Guyana has sent the protocols to start the treatment.
The News Room understands that the National Blood Bank has already collected three units of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to start the treatment once it is approved.
Before the convalescent plasma can be used, the recovered patient must be tested negative for COVID-19.
As of April 27, Guyana recorded 74 known cases of COVID-19 which includes eight deaths and 15 recoveries.
The Ministry follows the WHO protocol for determining recoveries which includes testing patients negative for the disease twice within a specified time.
With no vaccine available, convalescent plasma was used to treat over 500 patients in the US who have all recovered.
It was also approved for use in the UK as a national clinical trial to assess its effectiveness.
The Georgetown Public Hospital is already using drugs approved for the treatment of malaria to treat COVID-19.