KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan’s health authorities on Monday made public the preliminary findings of an ongoing clinical trial of plasma therapy to treat the COVID-19 patients in the country.

Fourteen patients having severe to critical disease were treated with plasma therapy during the trial, Dr. Tahir Shamsi, head of the National Institute of Blood Diseases, said in a statement.

The findings have been released a week after Pakistani doctors claimed a successful clinical trial of passive immunization after a coronavirus patient recovered through plasma therapy.

Overall 86% of the patients, according to the findings, had achieved positive outcomes as per the laid down criteria of this clinical trial.

Twelve out of 14 patients (86%), who suffered from progressively severe disease, recovered without the need of ventilator, it said, adding that along with clinical improvement, Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of six patients (43%) became negative by the eighth day of plasma infusion.

Out of 12 recovered patients, it went on to say, six patients were discharged home on ninth day of receiving plasma, while six others are stable and recovering in the hospital.

“Two critically ill COVID patients who were already on ventilator, received plasma infusion; one expired due to ventilator associated complications despite of becoming COVID PCR negative. Second expired due to cytokine storm,” it added.

The report also recommended an early use of plasma in COVID-19 patients who are in moderate to severe stage of disease to prevent disease progression to critical stage requiring ventilator.

In the absence of any proven therapy for COVID-19, and relative safety of convalescent plasma, it is recommended to be used widely in current pandemic.

“Trial is ongoing, our findings are significant therefore, preliminary data is shared with regulatory authorities and government and for the benefit of the medical community and patients at large,” it concluded.

Passive immunization is not a new medical treatment and has been done for the last 125 years.

According to Shamsi, the therapy was used to cure patients of diseases like SARS, Ebola and influenza in the recent past.

Pakistan is the second worst-hit country in the region from the virus after India, with the total number of cases reaching 42,185 with 903 deaths.

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