Critically ill COVID-19 patients are treated at Hà Nội's National Hospital for Tropical Diseases. — Photo courtesy of the hospital
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính on Monday asked the Ministry of Health to consider studying two COVID-19 treatment methods newly recommended by Dr Nguyễn Thanh Liêm, former director of the National Paediatrics Hospital.
The studies are expected to pave the way for suitable application of the two methods in treating COVID-19 in Việt Nam.
According to Professor Nguyễn Thanh Liêm, the two treatment methods that have been applied in countries around the world could help reduce mortality rates relating to COVID-19.
The first is transfusion of convalescent plasma containing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus from recovered patients to patients at risk of severe conditions.
Liêm said that the method was not a new one as is had been applied in many parts in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A remarkable study by Libster et al., recently published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine showed that plasma transfusion from recovered patients reduced the rate of respiratory failure and mortality compared with the control group receiving saline serum, Liêm said.
Two points emphasised in this study are that they administered convalescent plasma to patients very early, within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, and they only use plasma with high anti-viral antibody titers. Although the transfusion subjects were people 65 years of age or older with underlying medical conditions, none of the patients had serious adverse events.
Collecting plasma from donors is in principle the same as collecting blood from blood donors.
“The method is easy to implement, and low cost,” Liêm said.
The Ministry of Health should direct the city’s Hematology and Blood Transfusion Hospital and the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion to soon establish a plasma bank with anti-viral antibodies to use on high-risk patients, Liêm suggested.
The second method that Liêm recommended is infusing mesenchymal stem cells from the umbilical cord for patients with respiratory failure to prevent Cytokine storm - the leading cause of death in patients with respiratory failure.
The method has been used for respiratory failure of various causes, Liêm said.
With COVID-19, some studies show that stem cell transfusion can increase the survival rate by 2.5 times compared to the group without transfusion.
“Currently, Việt Nam has mastered the technology to produce mesenchymal stem cells in large quantities, which, if studied and deployed, will be a promising method to reduce mortality,” Liêm said.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Việt Nam early last year, the country has reported 17,305 deaths relating to COVID-19 , accounting for 2.5 per cent of the total confirmed infections. The national mortality rate is 0.4 per cent higher than the world’s average which stands at 2.1 per cent.
The COVID-19 related deaths in Việt Nam increased sharply in the fourth wave of the pandemic starting from late April this year.
As of Monday, nearly 695,744 infections were confirmed in the country with the number of deaths reaching 17,305.
In the last seven days Việt Nam reported on average 234 COVID-19 related deaths daily. — VNS