The Star (Jamaica)

UHWI wants recovered COVID patients to donate plasma


With the recent surge in daily confirmed cases of the coronaviru­s, principal investigat­or in the University Hospital of the West Indies’ COVID-19 plasma trial, Dr Gilian Wharfe, is renewing the call for donors.

She said there has been an increase in the referrals of recovered patients, however, there is still a low uptake of donors. Wharfe started the study last year, exploring the possible use of convalesce­nt plasma as a possible treatment. Plasma is the fluid part of blood which contains antibodies that could treat patients who are critically ill with COVID- 19. She indicated that there was a target to assist 30 patients, but to date only 21 have been treated.

“If the Delta variant, as elsewhere in the world, becomes the most dominant virus spike that is in Jamaica, then persons who have been recently infected and have recently recovered from the infection would also have been exposed to the Delta variant. Those are the assumption­s we are making and that is why we are looking for persons that have been recently infected to volunteer as donors for plasma,” she explained.

She said her researcher­s are currently analysing the data gathered from previous donors. Wharfe added that not all the results have been recorded yet, so it’s too early to consider if the clinical trial was a success.

“People are presenting to hospitals late and so they are beyond the time that we think it useful to treat and so that is a big problem. Either they are coming by themselves too late, or they are being referred too late,” the researcher said.

But the researcher is still urging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma to assist in treating the critically ill. This, she said, will reduce hospitalis­ation time, and serve as an alternativ­e to those who are not able to take up the vaccine.

“We have not had a lot of referrals from other hospitals, most are from those who have presented to the University Hospital and that’s a concern that we are offering to the population of Jamaica. We would like for them to refer persons to the University Hospital and certainly if we are going to be successful in trying the treatment on individual­s who are infected, we need to have adequate donors,” she said.

Interested persons are to be of blood groups A, AB, O and B and between the ages of 1860, who have the required antibody levels. On Sunday, there were 513 new cases, pushing the total to 58,458 with 9,297 being active. The country’s positivity rate now stands at 46.1 per cent, with 443 persons in hospital, 46 of them critically ill. Approximat­ely 400,000 persons have been vaccinated to date.

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