HMC restricts immunisation to admitted Covid-19 patients

Updated 06 Jul 2020

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Initially, HMC gave plasma to other hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 patients but it didn’t get feedback regarding its use due to which it stopped supply of plasma to other health facilities. — File photo
Initially, HMC gave plasma to other hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 patients but it didn’t get feedback regarding its use due to which it stopped supply of plasma to other health facilities. — File photo

PESHAWAR: Hayatabad Medical Complex has established a plasma bank after increase in donations by recovered patients from Covid-19 but has restricted the immunisation to its own patients to avoid its misuse.

“We have established a bank where all blood groups are available but we are providing plasma only to the patients, who are admitted to our hospital, to avoid legal complications,” HMC medical director Prof Shehzad Akbar Khan told Dawn.

He said that with every passing day, their donations were increasing but they were following the national guidelines according to which convalescent plasma (CP) could be transfused only in authorised hospitals. HMC is the only authorised health facilities for CP in the province.

Read: Explainer: What are antibody therapies and who is developing them for Covid-19?

Prof Shah Taj, head of pathology department at HMC, received award for her role in CP from Prime Minister Imran Khan on the 100th day of Covid-19.

Move meant to avoid misuse of plasma donation

HMC started convalescent plasma (CP) immunisation trial three months ago under an agreement with National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD), Karachi under the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination (MNHSR&C) for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Initially, HMC gave plasma to other hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 patients but it didn’t get feedback regarding its use due to which it stopped supply of plasma to other health facilities. Under the law, HMC is required to provide details regarding use of CP to Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) which has been tasked by MNHSR&C to monitor and ensure judicious use of CP.

Prof Shehzad said that the HMC administration also convened a meeting of Peshawar-based hospitals on June 11 with a view to sign agreements with them and enable them to start their immunisation. However, he said that the hospitals didn’t show interest and ultimately HMC decided that it would provide plasma to its own patients only.

“At the start, there was an issue of lack of plasma but now the hospital is receiving a lot of donations, which are transfused to the patients in line with the prescribed protocols,” said Prof Shehzad.

On June 15, MNHSR&C took notice of the widespread allegations of sale of plasma and issued national guidelines to ensure its regulated use.

“Since CP is still an experimental therapy, it can only be safely used under controlled settings as part of research protocol. The principal investigator of the research must get the health facilities approved and supervise them. Only approved hospitals are allowed to enroll their Covid-19 patients in clinical trials, which have been cleared by the relevant research regulatory authorities,” said the guidelines.

According to it, the trial has been approved by DRAP and respective ethical boards require adherence to prescribed protocols under monitoring and control.

“HMC is one of the 11 hospitals in the country to have been authorised by the government for trial of plasma immunisation. So far, we have given plasma to over 100 patients and the results are quite encouraging. We are in the process of compiling the results,” said Prof Shehzad.

Prof Tahir Shamsi, the chairman of NIBD and principal investigator of CP, told Dawn that it was one of the investigational treatments approved by government and specified centres were granted permission to run clinical trial for Covid-19 patients.

He said that as there was dire need of effective treatment regimens for Covid-19, the government mandated DRAP to oversee testing new technologies and interventions. “Clinical trials are currently underway to test the use of CP as an investigational treatment for Covid-19 patients. Hospitals and physicians taking part in the trials can enroll their patients, who fulfil the eligibility criteria, for entering into the study,” said Prof Tahir.

He said that the recovered patients, who were asymptomatic for at least two weeks and were willing to donate plasma, could contact helpline 1166 for guidance for nearby accredited plasma donation centres and hospitals offering CP to patients under approved protocols.

People have been urged to contact the treating physician and hospitals for information regarding the trial in progress and not to be exploited by paying money in purchasing plasma from different blood banks and hospitals.

Prof Tahir advised people and physicians to keep themselves informed about the clinical guidance on judicious use of CP for Covid-19 patients in current pandemic that would be issued by the ministry of health from time to time.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2020