Probe on illegal sale of blood plasma to COVID patients sought

Published August 2, 2020, 9:57 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Quezon City  Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo has called on the House Committee on Health to step in and look into the alleged illegal sale of blood plasma to COVID-19 patients.

Castelo said she is concerned over reports received by the Department of Health (DoH)-Central Visayas that some recovered COVID-19 patients are purportedly making money by selling their convalescent plasma to families of critically ill patients.

“There have been claims that plasma is being sold for as high as P80,000 per bag in Barangay Luz, Cebu City, one of the hardest hit barangays of COVID-19 infections in Region 7,” she said, even after the DoH has reminded the public  that only accredited hospitals are allowed to process the extraction of convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients and that such process shall be done under strict protocols.

Castelo filed House Resolution No.  1051 urging the House panel, chaired by Quezon  Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, to look into the “unacceptable practice” which may imperil public health and safety.

Castelo noted that Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DoH-Region 7 spokesperson, strongly advised against such practice as blood donors who have not undergone proper evaluation have the tendency to lie about their present medical condition, considering the economic woes brought about  by the crisis.

“This unacceptable practice may do more harm than good as there are diseases that may be transmitted through blood transfusion,” the House Assistant Majority Leader said.

“Donation of blood plasma should be voluntary so that it may be available to everyone who desperately needs it for survival,” she stressed.

Citing the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), she said a fully recovered patient may be able to help patients currently fighting the infection by donating his or her plasma, which contains COVID-19 antibodies.

“While there is no approved treatment for COVID-19, there is some information that suggested that the blood plasma might help some patients recover from the virus,” Castelo said.