Published Monday, July 6, 2020
Rural hospitals can apply plasma
treatment for covid-19 patients
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Guidelines for the use of plasma as a treatment for patients infected with covid-19 was approved by the Social Security Central Committee for Pharmacotherapy.
The first plasma treatment began in May and tested on a 37-year-old woman infected with covid-19. She was hospitalized at the Specialized Patient Care Center with Covid-19, known as the Covid Hospital in San José Province.
So far, after weeks of the first treatment, rural hospitals can now apply the treatment following the guideline issued by Social Security.
The treatment is based on antibodies from recovered virus patients which are transferred to an infected person in severe or critical health. Results show it will help them overcome the illness.
According to Ministry of Health 1,745 coronavirus patients have fully recovered.
According to the guideline, the use of the therapy must be applied to covid-19 patients with severe or critical health conditions.
The condition classified as severe is described by an adequate and healthy percentage of blood oxygen, without respiratory failure and a lung capacity higher than 50 percent.
The critically ill patient suffers from at least one of the following health problems: respiratory failure, septic shock, or severe organ failure.
The therapy will not be applied to patients with hypersensitivity to human proteins, more than 14 days after the start of covid symptoms, cancer patients, with end-stage neurodegenerative diseases, patients with advanced lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The plasma can be applied on two conditions; only after getting patient authorization and as long as the Blood Bank has the treatment available.
"The key point for this therapy, and the others that are developed together with the Clodomiro Picado Institute of the University of Costa Rica, is the solidarity of the recovered people because we need blood donation to make the plasma," said Marjorie Obando of Social Security.
The plasma produced in the Blood Bank was donated by patients recovered from covid-19, who suffered from the disease at light or moderate levels, who also do not have any other type of infectious disease, Social Security said.
To verify the health status of donors, they undergo clinical examinations and hematological laboratory tests to rule out detectable infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B, AIDS, Chagas and syphilis.
According to Social Security, the use of plasma can produce side effects such as fever, chills, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, pruritus or itching, dizziness, among others.
Some less frequent side effects are the appearance of tachycardia, hypotension, thromboembolic phenomena, kidney failure or even presenting anaphylactic shock.
"Convalescent plasma therapy is one of the many options that doctors have to face covid-19 in seriously ill patients: it is not the only one and it is not the cure for the disease, it represents one more opportunity to approach the disease in the meantime there are no drugs directly designed for treatment," said the Social Security in its statement.
Also, scientists at the Clodomiro Picado Research Institute of the University of Costa Rica continue to develop other forms of plasma treatment obtained from patients recovered from covid-19.
The Institute's research is using antibodies that are purified and obtained from the plasma of horses immunized with viral proteins.
The goal of Costa Rican scientists is to create a drug against covid -19. The advances in the studies have made it possible for antibodies to be detected in the plasma of animals.
According to Alberto Alape-Girón, director of the Institute, the immune response of horses is stronger than plasma from covid-19 recovered patients.
The researchers from UCR said they expect the production of synthetic viral proteins from covid-19 in the country could become a reality soon.
Should the government finance the investigation of the Institute to speed up the process in creating the covid-19 treatment? We would like to know your thoughts on this
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