Over 100 COVID-19 patients treated with blood plasma in Saudi Arabia

A lab technician freeze packs donated convalescent plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients. (AFP)
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Updated 04 July 2020

Over 100 COVID-19 patients treated with blood plasma in Saudi Arabia

  • Health Ministry records 2,291 critical COVID-19 cases, deaths toll reaches 1,802

JEDDAH: More than 100 people infected with the coronavirus have been treated through blood plasma samples from patients who have recovered from the virus, the Saudi Ministry of Health said on Friday.

The initiative is part of a study involving several research centers in the Kingdom, with 512 donors from Riyadh, Eastern Province, Jeddah and Madinah. This indicates the Saudi community is highly invested in supporting the treatment.
The ministry said that blood plasma contains antibodies that help the body to heal. When a patient recovers, his plasma is used on an infected person, which can form a defense against the virus, especially as a cure is yet to be discovered.
The blood plasma treatment has been used before in China and other countries, but its efficacy levels have not been tested through documented clinical studies.
Saudi Arabia approved the initiative early in April and a team was assembled from the ministry, National Guard Hospitals, King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Armed Forces Hospital, university hospitals, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, as well as from the private sector.
The ministry confirmed that the research team was working around the clock to expand the initiative’s scope and launch it across the Kingdom by acquiring donors, which is done through Twitter and via email or phone.
To date the official website has had 14,000 visitors, inside and outside the Kingdom, who have showed interest in the study.
Initial tests of the plasma’s antibodies, health history, vital signs and diagnosis are taken before treatment begins.

FASTFACTS

• The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 201,801.

• The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom reached 140,614.

Donors need to pass these tests for their plasma sample to be used on a COVID-19 patient safely. After that the recovering patient’s progress is monitored to further the research and determine its potency.
The donated plasma sample, usually amounting to 400ml to 700ml, is reliant on the donor’s weight and health. The sample is treated in blood banks to reduce microbes and put into two bags, each working as a single treatment dose. Patients are then treated with a single bag each day, and treatment is usually over a maximum of five days.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom recorded 50 new COVID-19-related deaths on Friday, raising the total number to 1,802.
There were 4,193 new cases reported in Saudi Arabia, meaning 201,801 people have now contracted the disease. There are 59,385 active cases; 2,291 of them are in critical condition.
According to the Health Ministry, 431 of the newly recorded cases were in Dammam, while Al-Hofuf recorded 399 and Riyadh recorded 383.
The ministry also announced that 2,945 more patients had recovered from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 140,614.
The ministry urges those who have come into contact with an infected person to immediately isolate themselves and call 937.


Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

Updated 10 August 2020

Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

JEDDAH: The third phase of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is to be carried out on at least 5,000 volunteers in Saudi Arabia after clearing mid-stage tests.
In an effort to expedite vaccines against coronavirus, the Ministry of Health announced its preparedness to launch the third phase in health centers across Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam. The clinical trials come as part of a ministry agreement with the Chinese vaccine developing company CanSino.
The findings of the first randomized controlled trial, published in The Lancet, resulted in the vaccine appearing to be safe and inducing a significant immune response in the majority of recipients in the second phase.
The vaccine uses a harmless cold virus, known as adenovirus type-5 (Ad5), to carry genetic material from coronavirus into the body.The volunteers will be over the age of 18.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press conference on Sunday that epidemiological analysis had shown a fluctuation in confirmed coronavirus cases, with a slight increase potentially caused by social gatherings during Eid Al-Adha that did not adhere to health protocols.

“These numbers are currently at a slight increase, but they are not a cause of major concern (at the moment) for outbreaks or clusters,” the spokesman said.
Estimates of COVID-19 patients needing critical care have decreased in the past three days and the current curve shows a 5.5 percent decrease in admissions. There are currently 1,816 patients in Saudi Arabia receiving critical care.
The Kingdom recorded 1,428 new cases on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 288,690 since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were 1,599 new recoveries, raising the total number of recoveries to 252,039. There are currently 33,484 active cases.
Saudi Arabia recorded 37 new fatalities on Sunday, raising the coronavirus death toll to  3,167.
There have been 58,424 polymerase chain reaction tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to over 3.8 million.