Scientists from Uganda’s Makerere University and the national army have launched a study to find out whether plasma from recovered coronavirus patients has an effect on those having the virus.
This is the country’s first Covid-19 convalescent plasma study.
Plasma is the clear, straw-coloured liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components of blood are removed.
Convalescent plasma is that taken from individuals who have recovered from an infection, and may contain antibodies against that particular disease.
The team has collected the first 162 units of plasma from donors.
The units collected had to be tested for infections, including Covid-19, HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis, and can only qualify to be used if they are disease-free.
“We are at phase IV of the outbreak. This means we have widespread community transmission. All our efforts are geared towards mitigation and use of CCP is one part of our strategies” Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health said while launching the clinical trials.
She further appealed to individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to continue giving plasma as teams will continue to require it for the trials.
The researchers say that there is emerging evidence to support the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of Covid-19, especially among severe cases.
They add that there is an urgent need to determine the efficacy of convalescent plasma.
Speaking at the launch of the clinical trail, The head Makerere University Lung Institute , Dr Bruce Kirenga said 186 recovered COVID-19 patients willingly consented to participate in the blood donation but only 162 qualified. “The donors came from all parts of Uganda except Karamoja region, where there was no COVID-19 infection at the time” he added.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for Covid-19.
Uganda has reported more than 5,000 cases of the virus and 58 deaths.