The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public against buying and selling of blood plasma taken from those who have already recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The DOH issued the statement after they received reports of families of critically-ill COVID-19 patients allegedly buying convalescent plasma from recovered patients, hospital staff, or fixers.
“These alleged transactions and practices are illegal, reckless and dangerous,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a statement.
“Trading blood and other blood products, including those from recovered COVID-19 patients, is not only illegal but highly dangerous. Convalescent Plasma should not be for sale and should be voluntarily donated for COVID-19 patients in need,” he added.
Duque said that there are possible health risks in purchasing blood plasma from unverified sources.
“It could pose serious risks to patients, who may contract transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs) such as HIV, hepatitis, and malaria,” he said.
The DOH said that under the National Blood Service Act of 1994, “all blood and blood products shall be collected from volunteer blood donors only” and that paid donation is not allowed.
“These donations should be done voluntarily and should go through the official process so as to ensure the safety of both recipients and voluntary donors,” said Duque.
The Health chief added that Convalescent Plasma Therapy is still being studied as possible treatment for COVID-19.
“Though used for COVID-19 treatment protocol in some local hospitals, its effectiveness as a therapy is still being evaluated and not yet part of the standard of care,” said Duque.
“To date, there is no concrete evidence to show that it is effective against SARS-Cov2,” he added. SARS-Cov2 is the official name of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Presently, only the Philippine Blood Center and the Philippine Red Cross-Port Area are the certified non-hospital-based convalescent plasma collection facilities, while Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center are the only hospitals certified to collect convalescent plasma for use in its treatment protocol, the DOH said.
“[The] 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 Duque.
“Likewise, DOH is appealing to relatives of patients to stop dealing with fixers operating inside and outside the hospitals,” he added.