PESHAWAR: The Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar, a public sector medical teaching institution, is awaiting the government’s approval of the Provincial Plasma Immunisation Committee to ensure the treatment of the critically-ill Covid-19 patients by passive immunisation method.

The National Bioethics Committee on Friday approved passive immunisation trial by the HMC but the provincial government’s formal nod is required for the start of work for the treatment of coronavirus patients by plasma taken from confirmed patients, who have completely recovered from the virus.

The experts said the treatment of confirmed cases by passive immunisation would begin soon after the committee was approved.

The HMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD), Karachi, on Wednesday but the provincial government has yet to approve the proposed committee for which names were sent to the health secretary on March 28.

Govt nod for plasma immunisation panel awaited for treatment of Covid-19 patients

“The province has recorded 311 coronavirus cases and nine deaths, while there is a rapid progression of patients, so it is urgent on part of the government to notify the committee as the province will need treatment of the patients, which is possible through plasma,” physicians and hematologists told Dawn.

They said it was a big achievement of the HMC that its nominated committee had been approved at the national level to pursue the objectives in collaboration with NIBD, Karachi.

The MoU said it set forth the continuation of understandings among the named parties to pursue experimental use of convalescent plasma in treating critically-ill Covid-19 patients.

According to it, its primary purpose is to ensure treatment only in the ongoing crisis and doesn’t represent any commitment on behalf of either party to pursue other projects or partnerships.

The MoU outlined the scope of coordination and said both institutions would mutually develop and follow uniform SOPs for collection, storage and usage of convalescent plasma in the treatment of Covid-19 patients and will carry out together experimental use of convalescent plasma as a mean of passive immunisation for the same purpose.

“To strengthen data collection about the prevalence of the pandemic and other information to ensure that the purpose of the partnership is achieved, both sides will maintain ongoing communication and circulate essential information on a regular basis,” it said.

According to the MoU signed by NIBD’s Prof Tahir Shamsi and HMC medical director Prof Shehzad Akbar Khan, there will no discrimination and the two institutions shall agree that no person on the basis of race, color, nationality, origin, gender, sexual orientation or creed be excluded from participation under the terms of the agreement.

The HMC had requested the government to approve a five-member committee in accordance with a proposal made by chairman of the National Passive Immunisation Committee at the NIBD Prof Tahir Shamsi. However, it can begin work only after the proposed committee led by Prof Shah Taj Khan of the HMC’s hematology department is notified by the government.

Such committees have already been formed in Sindh and Punjab with the view to pave the way for the use of plasma from confirmed coronavirus cases after complete recovery for the treatment of infected patients.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2020