Malaysia awaiting more evidence for Coronavirus plasma treatment

Malaysia awaiting more evidence for Coronavirus plasma treatment

Malaysian health authorities said today more evidence and literature is needed before using convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, amid doubts from scientists about its safety and effectiveness.

During a press conference reporting on Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 cases, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has managed to get a total of 22 packs of convalescent plasma from 12 to 13 recovered coronavirus patients that have stepped forward to donate their blood.

Dr Noor Hisham pointed out that so far, Malaysia has not used the convalescent plasma as the number of Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is not many.

“Recently we only have six patients. Before that I think the last couple of weeks, our patient (count) was very low. So, hopefully we don’t need to look into the usage of this convalescent plasma,” he said.

Patients who recover from Covid-19 have antibodies generated by their immune system that float around in their plasma, which is the liquid component of blood that suspends blood cells, STAT explained.

On August 23, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorisation for convalescent plasma to be used in the treatment of hospitalised Covid-19 patients. FDA commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn reportedly walked back Tuesday on his comments on the benefits of convalescent plasma, saying that data showed a “relative risk reduction, not an absolute risk reduction”.

CNBC reported that Dr Hahn had cited a Mayo Clinic study that found convalescent plasma resulted in a 35 per cent improvement in survival. However, the study did not include a control group of Covid-19 patients receiving a placebo. US President Donald Trump has touted the benefits of the experimental treatment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) remains cautious on the use of convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus, pointing out that the evidence saying it works remains low quality.

MOH reported five new Covid-19 cases today, including three new unlinked locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in Melaka, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases to 9,296.

Two cases were detected during a pre-surgical screening at Angkatan Tentera Malaysia Hospital in Terendak Camp Melaka, whereas one case was detected during a symptomatic screening done at the same hospital.

Dr Noor Hisham clarified that the patients who were detected positive Covid-19 in Melaka are not from a cluster.

“We managed to pick up two patients, one is cataract surgery and one is hand surgery. They are not a cluster and the other one is a staff who had symptoms and was screened and noted to be positive,” the Health-director general said.

The two imported cases out of five new Covid-19 cases reported today were Malaysians who returned from the Philippines and Egypt, both cases in Selangor.

Currently, there are 177 active Covid-19 cases, including eight patients in the ICU, out of which six of them are on ventilator support.

Sixteen patients have recovered today bringing the total number of recovered patients to 8,994.

The death toll remains at 125 cases as no new deaths. - Code Blue