Blood of Covid-19 survivors needed for research
The National Institute of Health and GC Pharma are struggling with a shortage of blood donations needed for the development a Covid-19 treatment that utilizes antibodies in the plasma. The number of Covid-19 survivors willing to donate blood plasma increased by six on Thursday to 18.
"We are recruiting blood donors to develop plasma treatment for coronavirus patients," the National Institute of Health said on Monday. "At least 150 recovered patients’ cooperation is needed for our research in Covid-19 treatment.”
As of 10 a.m. on Thursday, a total of five blood samples were drawn for the development of the treatment.
According to a research plan by GC Pharma, the plasma treatment will enter the clinical trial phase in July after the current research phase. The pharmaceutical company has received approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and aims to release the treatment within this year.
The plasma treatment is made by extracting immune proteins with various antibodies from the plasma in the blood of recovered Covid-19 patients. The concept is different from plasma therapy — transfusing plasma of a recovered patient directly to another patient. Although the treatment can be made quickly and easily with the blood of a completely recovered patient, it is difficult to mass-produce without, as production is limited by the number of donors.
"The most important part in developing the treatment is securing enough blood samples of the fully recovered patients," a GC Pharma official said. "The number of donors seems to be small due to the complicated process of plasma donation which requires visiting the hospital twice."
But the company said they are receiving more phone inquiries every day.
Recovered patients aged between 17 and 69 are eligible for plasma donations 14 days after being released from quarantine. The participating hospitals are Keimyung University Dongsan Hospital, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu Fatima Hospital and Korea University Ansan Hospital.
People willing to donate their plasma are tested for Covid-19 and other infectious diseases during their first visit, and checked for Covid-19 neutralizing antibodies. If the results from the first visit show that the patient is eligible for plasma donations, the person has to make a second visit within a week to donate about 500 milliliters (18 fluid ounces) of blood. For more information, call 1522-6487 or the GC Green Cross at 031-260-1943.
BY PYUN GWANG-HYUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]