Israel’s national emergency medical service Magen David Adom (MDA) announced on Tuesday that it would begin collecting plasma units from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in a new project that aims to treat coronavirus patients in serious condition.
MDA said it was expected to begin the project in the coming days. It will be carried out in the Pheresis Unit at MDA’s Blood Services Center at Tel HaShomer hospital.
The project will treat patients in serious condition with an antibody produced from patients who have overcome the infection.
“This is based on the assumption that those who have recovered from the disease have developed special anti-virus proteins (antibodies) in their plasma,” MDA said in a statement on their website.
These antibodies are like a “passive vaccine” that could help patients cope with the disease, they added.
Plasma with antibodies is often used to treat viruses. This treatment often was used to treat patients with SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) during the SARS outbreak in 2002. The current virus has been identified as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease COVID-19.
“Those who have recovered from the coronavirus (COVID-19) will be invited to donate plasma by a special method (Pheresis method) where only donor plasma is collected, and all other blood components are returned to him,” Prof. Eilat Shinar, MDA Deputy Director-General – Blood Services.
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While it’s not known officially that plasma treatment is effective for this particular virus, MDA noted in their announcement that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already approved a similar protocol in the US in late March.
“This method has been in use at MDA’s Blood Services for over 30 years and thousands of volunteers donate blood this way every day. In the first phase, the plasma units will be used to treat by transfusion, but the goal is to collect enough plasma to prepare antibody (immunoglobulin) concentrate with which patients will be treated later.”
There are 226 people in Israel who have recovered from coronavirus in Israel. Plasma collection can only be done 14 days after a patient has fully recovered from the virus, MDA said.
“Of course, anyone who is invited to donate a plasma must meet the Health Ministry’s criteria and requirements for donating blood,” Prof. Shinar added
“MDA is at the forefront of the coronavirus in Israel and its teams are working day and night answering tens of thousands of calls,” said MDA Director-General, Eli Bin, “These efforts are now joined by activities already implemented in the world and are successful, and we all hope that together we will overcome this challenge.”
MDA asks those who have fully recovered from coronavirus and are willing to come and donate a plasma to call +972 3 5300445.