Picture: Pixabay
Picture: Pixabay

SANBS at the forefront of convalescent plasma therapy research in treatment of Covid-19

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published May 25, 2020

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Durban - One of the first contractors of Covid-19 in South Africa is now on a mission to find an effective treatment or even a cure for the virus which has claimed hundreds of lives in the country. 

Dr Jonanthan Louw, the South African National Blood Services CEO was one of the country's first Covid-19 patients. 

He has become of the first people to donate convalescent plasma (plasma that is removed from the blood of a person who has recovered from a disease, then transfused into a patient still battling it). 

Louw said following a tough infection, coupled with a history of chronic asthma, he is happy to have been able to make a full recovery. 

"I had to go to hospital a couple of times. I was isolated from family for a very long period. It has been a long journey but I’m really hoping that this disease will have a cure soon,” he said. 

In the fight against Covid-19, the SANBS is one of a few international blood transfusion services embarking on this exciting research to determine if convalescent plasma, collected from recovered Covid-19 individuals, may help patients hospitalised with Covid-19. 

Currently there is no proven treatment to improve the outcome for these patients.

Convalescent plasma may potentially be one of the only treatment options that works, however this needs to be tested in clinical trials. A convalescent plasma donation is just like a standard plasma donation, the key difference being the need for a specific type of donor. 

Louw has been a regular blood donor for many years. 

"I hope that through my through my convalescent plasma, which is full of antibodies, I can help someone else,” Louw said. 

The SANBS is well positioned to collect this product as we already collect a similar product, source plasma, daily. 

The SANBS has two research protocols, one to collect the plasma and one to issue the plasma to patients enrolled in a randomised phase 2 placebo-controlled blinded clinical trial.  

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