Doctors in the UK are increasingly frustrated that the government has yet to approve plasma therapy trials to help treat patients with coronavirus.
Therapy involves extracting plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from the virus and giving it to those who are seriously ill.
The idea is that antibodies produced by patients who survived the virus will strengthen the immune systems of those who try to beat disease.
Trials are already underway in other countries, including China, France, Germany and the United States, but no decisions have been made in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Colin Hamilton-Davies heads the acute care acute cardiology unit at Bart’s Hospital in London and has spent 30 years examining this line of research.
He said lives could be saved if action was taken immediately.
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“We have a national health service and a blood transfusion service that are the envy of the world, we have a very large blood transfusion service and for people who take blood plasma, we could step it up by here a week.
“We could administer it, not only to one or two people, but to hundreds of patients. “
There is no effective treatment for COVID-19 the patients. Studies are underway on the use of antivirals and steroids, but many argue that the use of plasma therapy has not yet been sufficiently explored.
Dr. Hamilton-Davies wrote to Secretary of Health Matt Hancock and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab to offer his expertise.
Last week, Mr. Raab responded and sent a letter to Mr. Hancock requesting the use of plasma therapy, but no decision has been made as to the start of the trials.
But Dr. Hamilton-Davies is concerned that this delay will cost valuable research time.
“It is incredibly frustrating,” he said.
“It’s not just me, but many colleagues are asking” why are we not looking at this in more depth and in a shorter time? “
“There is a research framework that is operational and of which it may or may not be part. I really hope he will. This is something that we could set up and execute very quickly. “
The treatment has been used with some success for Ebola and SARS and many experts agree that it should be tested for COVID-19 patients in the UK.
Dr. Muhammad Munir, molecular virologist at the University of Lancaster, told Sky News: “Plasma therapy is a temporary solution and should be done at all costs because what we are looking for is a vaccine for next year . Plasma is something we can offer and it is in our hands.
“It would be extremely disappointing if this effort were not put in place – and especially at a time when so many people are recovering and can be a valuable source of plasma collection. “
An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said, “We have well-established plans for dealing with emerging diseases, including the collection of convalescent plasma.
“We are working closely with government and other NHS agencies to explore ways to best support the work being done to combat COVID-19. “