Hospitals begin plasma therapy trials as first Covid-19 patient fully recovered

Dr Tahir Shamsi says five more hospitals have also sought DRAP's nod to hold clinical trials for passive immunisation

Tufail Ahmed May 10, 2020
Dr Tahir Shamsi says five other hospitals have also sought DRAP's nod to hold clinical trials of passive immunisation. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KARACHI: Pakistan's top hematologist on Sunday said that three hospitals in the country have started clinical trials for passive immunisation with the support of National Institute of Blood Disease (NIBD) to treat the Covid-19 patients

The NIBD head, Dr Tahir Shamsi, told The Express Tribune that five more hospitals across the country have also sought the Drug Regulatory of Pakistan (Drap) nod to conduct the clinical trials for passive immunisation.

Last month, Drap had granted approval for a passive immunisation under which the blood plasma is infused to coronavirus patients to help their immune system to fight off the highly-contagious disease.

Convalescent plasma taken from a recovered Covid-19 patient is believed to be rich in the antibodies needed to cure the deadly infection.

The technique is used when there is a high risk of infection and insufficient time for the body to develop its own immune response or to reduce the symptoms of ongoing or immunosuppressive diseases.

Pakistan's first Covid-19 patient recovers with plasma therapy

Professor Shamsi said the country's first Covid-19 patient was fully recovered from the mysterious illness within seven days and tested negative for the novel coronavirus after he was treated through plasma therapy.

The NIBD chief also said more than one dozen Covid-19 patients in Karachi are being treated through plasma therapy and three medical facilities in other parts of the country are also allowed to use the similar technique, which is also approved registered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to treat Covid-19 patients.

Dr Shamsi was the first medical expert in the country who had proposed the technique to the government authorities for the treatment of Covid-19 following the pandemic outbreak.

According to the NIBD research team, no evidence of reinfection found in the recovered coronavirus patients after they donated their blood.

Dr Shamsi also warned that the number of Covid-19 cases could cross 80,000 mark and the medical facilities in the country could get overwhelmed by the end of May.

Currently, the nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients stands at 30,429 with 11,093 cases in Punjab, 11,480 in Sindh, 4,669 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2,017 in Balochistan, 442 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 641 in Islamabad and 87 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed at least 661 lives while at least 8,063 coronavirus patients have recovered.