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Bill seeks creation of plasma banks in hospitals amid COVID-19 crisis

A bill has been filed in the Senate seeking the creation of plasma banks in all public and private hospitals across the Philippines to promote plasma donation for COVID-19 patients while there remains no available vaccine for the virus.

Senator Imee Marcos' Senate Bill 1648 or the proposed Plasma Donation and Collection Act is seeking to promote the convalescent plasma transfusion for the speedy recovery of COVID-19 patients, especially those who are suffering from severe infection.

"There is hope in the use of plasma as a possible treatment for COVID-19, with clinical trials now being conducted by the PGH (Philippine General Hospital). The World Health Organization also sanctioned the use of plasma in other pandemics like the Ebola outbreak in Africa,” Marcos said in a statement.

"We must prepare for the long haul. Not even medical experts can tell the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, how much further cases of infection in the country will increase, and when a vaccine will be found," she said.

Under the bill, all public and private hospitals in the country shall have a facility where plasma can be collected and stored.

"All hospitals with existing plasma storage facilities and capable of collecting and storing plasma shall be deemed to have complied with the provisions of this Act," it read.

Marcos said the reported modus of plasma buy-and-sell in the Central Visayas region would be stopped if an organized plasma donation and collection system would be put in place.

Last Friday, Office of the Presidential Assistance for the Visayas Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales said that some middlemen are exploiting the COVID-19 situation by charging up to P20,000 in exchange for finding plasma donors for critically ill patients.

Senator Sonny Angara, a COVID-19 survivor, recently launched a website directly connecting interested plasma donors to accredited collecting hospitals in Metro Manila.

Malacañang recently welcomed the start of a government-funded study on the use of convalescent blood plasma to help treat COVID-19.

Through the plasma transfusion, the antibodies of COVID-19 survivors are transferred to those severely-ill to help them fight the virus.

PGH spokesperson Jonas Del Rosario previously said that the therapy is believed to shorten the course of illness of COVID-19 patients.

In May, five out of nine plasma recipients at the PGH survived the virus. -NB, GMA News