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Makerere Starts Using Recovered Patients' Blood For Treating Covid-19

To treat each person, they require two units of blood meaning two donors are required for each patient, according to Kirenga, who explains that the higher the antibodies the quicker a person will be able to recover from the virus.
Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng holding refridgerated units of plasma at the launch.

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After collecting more than a hundred units of blood from people who have recovered from COVID-19, Makerere University scientists who are developing a convalescent plasma drug have been given a nod by the Ministry of Health to start randomized trials.

Speaking at the launch event at the university this morning, Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said the researchers are cleared to use both the Mulago National Referral hospital which has also been acting as the blood collecting point and the regional referral hospitals.

  She said the scientists are ready to start tomorrow.

  ///Cue in: “The convalescent plasma ……     Cue out: ……… continue to increase”. // 

  Explaining how the investigational drug works, Dr. Bruce Kirenga the lead investigator on the trial said the extracted plasma from donors will be used to treat both patients that are in severe state and the mild ones to stop the disease from progressing.

He said all the donors considered in the blood collection phase had anti-bodies against SARS- COV- 2 the virus that causes COVID-19.

  ///Cue in: “What we are ……     Cue out … … get an infection”. //

To be able to collect this blood that will now be used to treat patients participating in the study, 192 recovered patients were approached, whereby 179 were eligible to donate as they ticked the requirements of being 18 or above and the blood donation criteria as stipulated by Uganda National Blood Transfusion Services.

162 donors received from across the country were able to donate 162 units of blood but 127 units are viable and fit for use so far.

To treat each person, they require two units of blood meaning two donors are required for each patient, according to Kirenga, who explains that the higher the antibodies the quicker a person will be able to recover from the virus.

For the blood so far collected, Kirenga who is also the Executive Director of the Makerere University Lung Institute says they established that antibodies were higher among donors who donated closer to their date of first positive test or admission.

A total of 136 COVID-19 patients are expected to participate in the trial that kicks off tomorrow, Dr. Winters Mutamba who is managing the administrative arm of the study says they should be able to collect more  plasma enough to cater for that number since the least that a patient can require are two units.

However, similar studies have been done in other countries including in India where they found plasma lowers progression of the disease and in South Africa. In Ghana, guidelines for collecting plasma have been issued and recovered people are already donating. u    

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