The Department of Health (DOH) has warned against the reported on-going trade in plasma of convalescent or recovered Covid-19 patients which could pose “serious risks” to recipients who may contract transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs) such as HIV, hepatitis and malaria.
There were increasing reports in the recent weeks from families of critically-ill Covid-19 patients allegedly buying convalescent plasma from recovered patients, hospital staff and “fixers”.
Some reports even said certain individuals intentionally infect themselves so that their plasma can be sold after recovery. The DOH branded such alleged transactions and practices as “illegal, reckless and dangerous.”
“Those individuals do not only place their lives at risk; they also put their families and communities at risk when they voluntarily get infected,” a DOH official said.
“Trading blood and other blood products, including those from recovered Covid-19 patients, is not only illegal but highly dangerous. Convalescent plasma should not be for sale and should only be voluntarily donated for Covid-19 patients in need,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said.
According to the Republic Act 7719, also known as the National Blood Service Act of 1994, all blood and blood products shall be collected from volunteer blood donors only. Paid donation is not allowed, and facilities who will pay blood donors shall be penalized as provided under DOH Administrative Order No. 36, series of 1994, Chapter VII and VIII.
With officials from government hospitals like PGH calling for blood plasma donations from recovered Covid-19 patients, DOH emphasizes that these donations should be done voluntarily and should go through the official process to ensure safety of both recipients and voluntary donors.
The Philippine Blood Center and the Philippine Red Cross-Port Area branch are the only certified non-hospital-based convalescent plasma collection facilities, while Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center are the only hospitals certified to collect convalescent plasma for use in its treatment protocol.
The DOH pointed out that although used for Covid-19 treatment protocol in some local hospitals, plasma effectiveness as therapy is still being evaluated and not yet part of the standard of care.