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S. Korea unveils blood collection guidelines for plasma treatment of virus patients

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korean health authorities on Thursday unveiled blood collection guidelines for plasma therapy of the novel coronavirus patients.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) advised doctors to collect blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors, 14 days after they were declared virus-free and released from quarantine.

The therapy involves infusions of antibody-rich plasma from those who have recovered from the novel coronavirus. Plasma, usually yellow, is the liquid portion of blood that remains after blood cells and platelets are removed.

Under the guidelines, plasma donors need to be retested for COVID-19 before donation to make sure they no longer carry the virus.

People aged between 17 and 69 are eligible for plasma donations, according to the KCDC, although those aged 65 or older need to have a blood donation record between the ages of 60 and 64.

The KCDC said doctors will determine whether donors' plasma is eligible for use after analyzing hemoglobin levels and their medical records of underlying diseases.

However, health authorities said they will not use the blood plasma of women with a record of pregnancy, saying it can cause side effects.

The KCDC said virus survivors can donate their blood plasma multiple times, although they need to undergo health checks after giving blood.

Blood collection should be done at a hospital where donors had been hospitalized for the virus treatment, the KCDC said. There will be no financial rewards for the donation of blood plasma, it added.

However, health authorities said they are still in discussion over who should receive plasma therapy and how it should be actually applied to virus patients.

The KCDC emphasized that releasing blood collecting guidelines does not mean that it officially approves of the effectiveness and safety of plasma therapy for all virus patients.

Since there is no vaccine yet for the novel coronavirus, some experts have here said convalescent plasma is worth a try. A Seoul hospital recently reported that two patients were declared cured upon receiving the therapy. (Yonhap)

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