THE Department of Health (DOH) yesterday warned the public against engaging in the illegal trading of convalescent plasma from patients that have already recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the public should neither offer nor become recipients of convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors outside of authorized health facilities because “these alleged transactions and practices are illegal, reckless, and dangerous.”
Duque said the DOH has received increasing reports of families of critically-ill COVID-19 patients allegedly buying convalescent plasma from recovered patients, hospital staff, or fixers.
The National Blood Service Law dictates that all blood and blood products shall be collected from volunteer blood donors only, and that paid donation is not allowed.
“DOH is calling on the aid of hospital chiefs to check their own staff if they engage in this practice, and LGUs to investigate the trade of convalescent plasma outside the realm of authorized health facilities,” said the health chief.
“Likewise, the DOH is appealing to relatives of patients to stop dealing with fixers operating inside and outside the hospital,” he added.
Duque said they have also received information that there are people who have allegedly intentionally infected themselves so that their plasma can be donated after recovery in exchange for remuneration.
“Those individuals do not only place their lives at risk, but they also put their families and communities at risk when they voluntarily get infected,” said Duque.
On the other hand, Duque said it may also pose serious risks to recipient patients as they may contract transfusion-transmissible infections (STIs), such as HIV, hepatitis, and malaria.
“This should go through the official process so as to ensure the safety of both recipients and voluntary donors,” said Duque.
Duque reminded the public that the authorities are still evaluating the effectiveness of convalescent plasma as a COVID-19 therapy. “To date, there is no concrete evidence to show that it is effective against COVID-19,” he said.
Presently, only the Philippine Blood Center and the Philippine Red Cross (Port Area) are the certified non-hospital-based convalescent plasma collection facilities, while the Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center are the only hospitals accredited to collect convalescent plasma for use in its treatment protocols.