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Encouraging Initial Results in Greek Trials with Convalescent Plasma Treatment for COVID-19

Αssociated Press

FILE- A member of medical personnel shows collected blood samples from COVID-19 tests at the MontLegia CHC hospital in Liege, Belgium, Friday, June 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

ATHENS -- Greek researchers currently conducting trials for the treatment of Covid-19 using convalescent plasma have reported improvement in the condition of the 10 patients treated so far.

Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), in statements published on Tuesday, researchers participating in the trials led by the rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Thanos Dimopoulos said that the 10 patients treated in Greece have all so far seen an improvement of the disease.

The polycentric phase 2 trials started on April 28 and involve administering the plasma of asymptomatic or recovered Covid-19 patients to those who are suffering from severe forms of the disease. In addition to Dimopoulos, another 22 researchers in six hospitals in Greece are participating in the trial with the approval of the National Organisation for Public Health.

University of Athens Medical School professors Evangelos Terpos, Marianna Politou and Vasiliki Pappa explained that the plasma donated by 261 volunteers has been checked for antibodies to SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, using PCR tests. The volunteers were either asymptomatic, had developed mild symptoms and recovered at home or had been hospitalised. Of these, 88 pct had tested positive for the virus, based on techniques used at Greece's Pasteur Institute. Eighty-two healthy donors have donated plasma to be administered to patients requiring treatment in hospital.

The study is expected to last 20 months and test the administration of convalescent plasma to 100 Covid-19 patients, while success will be determined based on the survival of patients at three weeks, one month and two months after the start of the trial.

The technique involves collecting plasma from recovered patients, which is then administered to patients with severe forms of the disease in three doses of 200-233 ml, spaced two days apart. The quantities collected from donors each time mean that one donor can treat one patient per session but it is possible to collect plasma multiple times, meaning that a single donor can help heal more than one patient.

The trial will also examine the changes in levels of antibodies in recovered donors over time, at three, six and 12 months after they were first detected in the blood stream, in order to determine how long they remain present after infection.