Health Ex-corona patients give plasma for Covid-19 drug; number...

Ex-corona patients give plasma for Covid-19 drug; number of donors blood bank Zwolle doubled

There is great enthusiasm among ex-patients to donate. Throughout the Netherlands, four thousand new donors have registered with Sanquin, bringing the counter to twelve thousand. A considerable number, but not enough according to the organization.

Race against the clock

Finding and recruiting new plasma donors from ex-patients is a high priority, but at the same time it is a race against time for Sanquin. It is now clear that the antibodies against corona disappear from the blood after a few months.

We are on the right track, but we are not there yet

Merlijn van Hasselt, Sanquin

“We are on the right track, but we are not there yet. We want to collect as much Plasma with antibodies as possible in a short period of time to prepare ourselves for a possible new corona wave in the Netherlands,” explains Merlijn van Hasselt. . He is a spokesperson for Sanquin. “In the coming period it will be very necessary for people who have had corona, and who are not yet a donor, to report to us.”


“Fortunately, we see here at the blood bank in Zwolle that the willingness to come is great”, says Van Hasselt. “Infected healthcare workers from Isala Hospital, who have seen and experienced firsthand what the disease does to people, volunteer to give plasma.”

They do this from their calling. “They are well aware of what donating plasma with antibodies to Covid-19 can mean for others. We also see many employees of regional nursing and care homes who have become infected themselves.”

In addition, people from areas that have been hit hard by the virus also report. For example from Zwartewaterland, a municipality where

Covid-19 struck mercilessly hard a few months ago, causing many casualties. “These people also come to us. They have seen up close what the virus has done to themselves and their loved ones. It may therefore make them easier and faster to come and help by donating plasma.”

Why is the need for even more new donors among ex-corona patients so great?

“Sanquin has been commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to collect more than thirty thousand kilos of blood plasma,” says Van Hasselt. We expect that this will require at least sixteen thousand donors in the Netherlands who have been infected with Covid-19. It is extremely important that those donors also have sufficient antibodies in their blood.

Sanquin wants to use the antibodies from the plasma to make a medicine that can help other Covid-19 patients or vulnerable target groups.

The more the better

“In some cases we notice that donors who have had the disease still have relatively few of those antibodies in their blood. That is a pity. There is not enough available to make a medicine from it and unfortunately we also have to say goodbye to those donors. That is why the need for new donors is and will remain great. You could say the more the better. “

You turn the antibodies in the blood plasma into a medicine, the effect of which is different from that of a vaccine …

“That’s right, we isolate the antibodies from the blood. A well-known technique, Sanquin does that itself. We process the blood plasma and put the antibodies in ampoules that can be administered to risk groups via an IV as a preventive measure to prevent them from becoming ill. it also helps people who are already sick. It is a passive form of immunization. As a result, the body does not learn to produce the antibodies itself, but can withstand a Covid-19 infection with the antibodies obtained. “

The word ‘maybe’ in the previous sentence about the recovery of sick patients is crucial, because the exact effect of the drug is still under investigation, right?

“That’s right. Thanks to the cooperation with international pharmaceutical companies, we have set up a worldwide study very quickly to see whether the antibodies actually work as we expect. This is a clinical study that is currently in full swing.”

Sanquin expects that around October, when the second corona wave may present itself, it will be known whether the ampoules with antibodies work or not.

Everyone is aware of the urgency of corona

Merlijn van Hasselt, Sanquin

The process of developing a new drug is usually very time consuming. “The implementation of the idea and the registration of a new drug with official bodies sometimes takes years,” explains Merlijn van Hasselt. “But with corona, everyone is so aware of the urgency that an accelerated research process has been set up. Parallel to the research, we are already collecting large quantities of plasma, in the expectation that it will work, so that we can produce quickly with green light. . “

If the medicine works, it will initially be available on a limited scale. Who will be the first to be eligible to use the medicine?

“What we have most expectations of are risk groups. People with a weakened resistance. Think of people who have just been sick from something else, people on chemotherapy or people in a nursing home. And the older target group.

can give people preventative antibodies, then you have immunized them. Then their body has antibodies when the disease presents itself and then they are able to fight it off. ”

“How many people we will be able to effectively help with the first round of plasma collection is still an open question. If the drug may be used, we will also have to be careful with it and use it mainly for risk groups. You have to administer the drug repeatedly to maintain the effect. The administered antibodies also only remain in the body for a limited time. “

Isn’t donating blood plasma very intensive and tiring for ex-corona patients, who are often still recovering themselves?

“That varies greatly per patient. Giving plasma is less stressful for the body than giving blood. Plasma consists largely of water and you can replenish that well within 48 hours by drinking a lot. But it is. absolutely true that ex-corona patients sometimes have a hard time. They are easily tired and are often still working on building up their condition. “

No matter how much Sanquin wants the plasma with the antibodies, the health of the donor always comes first. If donating is too hard for an ex-corona patient, then we absolutely will not do it. Everyone who registers will receive an inspection in which this aspect is taken into account.

Donors must meet a number of conditions. “A donor must be fit and be able to spare part of his blood. He or she must weigh no less than fifty kilos and age also plays a role. Donors under eighteen and over seventy are excluded.”

Travel behavior and risk behavior also play a role. “For example, if you have had a tattoo done abroad, which means there is a risk of blood-borne infections, then you may not become a donor. Gay and bisexual men are also excluded from giving plasma.”

Nevertheless, it will be all hands on deck in the coming period to persuade former corona patients to become donors. What is your strongest argument for that?

“In fact, the golden rule remains: you as a donor lose an hour of your time to come and donate your plasma. In that hour you have made life easier, better and possibly saved at least one other patient. So it is. a little effort, a little bit of your time, for a world of difference for the other person. “

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