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A small group of patients kept in intensive care for the harsh ravages of the coronavirus already received a blood plasma transfusion late last week.

This has already been experienced in Ecuador, after the United States Medicines Regulatory Agency (FDA) approved the use of this technique in severe cases of COVID-19, just as it was carried out in other pandemics, with variable results.

The blood banks of the Luis Vernaza hospital and the Guayaquil clinic, among others, have called donors based on certain parameters, such as having a certificate of having tested positive for the virus and having ten days without symptoms, which means, recovered.

In Guayaquil, the city with the most infected cases, hematologist Carlos Plaza and Brenner Sabando lead a team of specialists from both hospitals. They take samples daily from donors and evaluate the evolution of patients in this medical trial.

Plaza explained that, based on Chinese studies that gave good results, they were motivated to this experimentation that is already known to the Ministry of Public Health.

Regarding the plasma extraction process, scientifically known as plasmapheresis, the doctor indicated that he basically connects to the donor in a two-way machine. In one blood is drawn, the plasma is withdrawn from it and finally, through the other route, the fluid is returned.

Why plasma? It stores the body's proteins, including antibodies, that were formed to free cured patients from the virus.

These, when shared with the sick patient, could locate the virus and decrease the viral load, he said. "The tests are very promising, it seems that the patients are responding favorably, those who were very sick have improved a little," said the doctor, without anticipating giving greater prognoses, since worldwide, as in the United States, complies with the experimentation phase of the technique.

“The good thing about this is that the plasma extraction process is a more complex process, but easier for the donor; only the plasma is extracted, that means that you do not stay anemic, nor lose platelets. So what we can do is donate every seven or eight days. For each donor we get between 2 and 3 doses, "he said. This can motivate a group of 20 to 25 donors to give triple the plasma dose, from 300 to 400 ml. per unit.

However, Plaza clarified that they still await the evolution of the small group of patients, since this treatment has had various results in other pandemics such as Ebola and MERS.

For now, he said, the Ministry of Health already knows its protocols and they are pending the evolution of the first interventions. "The idea is that if it works it can be done throughout the country," he added.

Those who wish to apply to collaborate as donors must also be under 65 years of age, weigh more than 55 kilograms and pass blood tests to rule out viral diseases. They can be contacted through the Instagram account @hospital.clinicaguayaquil.

Julio López, vice minister of Governance and Health Surveillance, reported that after a resolution by the National Emerging Operations Committee (COE), updated information on the evolution of coronavirus cases will be channeled directly through local COEs.

"The resolution is due to the fact that we are making some adjustments in the flow of information to have a better speed and a greater quantity in terms of updating the information," said the vice minister through the virtual press conference, offered to the 11:00 this Tuesday, April 7.

The official added that a new report with the recent figures would be published yesterday afternoon, in order to improve the "quality of the information" that is provided to the public on the situation in each of the provinces.

He clarified that the change in modality will be normalized yesterday afternoon to "transparently" the figures and expand the data. He stressed that the resolutions on restrictions are still in the power of the National COE.

Regarding the virus treatment, the vice minister explained that at the moment there is no treatment with sufficient clinical evidence. He added that there are a series of clinical trials with medications that the Ministry has arranged and they are working with the Pan American Health Organization (OPS) in view of the possibility of carrying out more clinical trials.

Any medication must be prescribed under the supervision of a doctor, he emphasized in his speech.

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The EcuaAssist Team

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