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Egypt starts plasma therapy trials to treat coronavirus patients

Ahram Online , Thursday 30 Apr 2020
coronavirus pandemic
An Egyptian doctor checks a patient's lung X-ray at the infectious diseases unit of the Imbaba hospital in the capital Cairo, on April 19,2020, during the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (AFP)
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Egypt’s health ministry announced on Thursday it has started trials on plasma collected from donors who recovered from the coronavirus to test whether plasma can be an effective treatment for patients who are severely ill with the disease.

The trials were initiated after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week encouraged those who have recovered from the disease to donate plasma to help others fight the virus.

The FDA said the convalescent plasma has the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by Covid-19.

The Egyptian health ministry said three out of six fully recovered coronavirus patients who took part in the trial proved to have the valid plasma with the needed antibodies to fight the virus.

One coronavirus patient in Egypt was injected with the plasma and in the coming days more patients will join the trial according to the scientific research protocols, the ministry added.

It added that as soon as it is confirmed that patients are recovered using plasma injection, the treatment will be extended to include other patients.

Fully recovered coronavirus patients will be invited to donate their plasma to help in treating other patients.

Research findings will be shared with international bodies and published in international medical journals, Khaled Megahed, the health ministry's spokesman, said.

Egypt has joined 100 countries thus far in the World Health Organisation (WHO) solidarity clinical trial that aim to find treatment for COVID-19, he added.

WHO, along with other partners, has launched an international clinical trial in mid-March to examine a number of drugs for the deadly contagion.

The solidarity trial is aimed to compare four treatment options against the standard of care to assess their relative effectiveness against Covid-19. By enrolling patients fron multiple countries, the solidarity trial aims to rapidly discover whether any of the drugs can slow disease progression or improve survival. Other drugs can be added based on emerging evidence, according to WHO.

The solidarity trial has been carried out in all Egyptian quarantine hospitals, Megahed added.

Egypt has 14 functioning quarantine hospitals, and more have already been prepared.

Egypt has so far detected 3,556 active coronavirus cases in the isolation hospitals out of 5,268 infections recorded since the flu-like virus was first detected in the country in mid-February.

The study includes two parts. The first one is "observational" and aims to analyse patient data and show indicators via building an international unified database in a quest to increase knowledge about the virus to find the best treatment method.

The second part includes clinical trials on research drugs and their results, Megahed pointed out.

Several countries such as the US, the UK and India have started plasma treatment trials for coronavirus patients who are severely unwell.

Convalescent plasma was used as a treatment during the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak.

Egypt has recorded 5,268 coronavirus cases, including 380 deaths and 1335 fully recovered patients.

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