Up to 5,000 severely ill patients with COVID-19 could soon be treated each week with plasma as part of a new approach to treating the virus, the health department said on Saturday.
Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can be transfused to patients who are struggling to produce their own antibodies against the virus.
So-called convalescent plasma was used as an effective treatment during the 2002 to 2004 SARS outbreak, the health department said.
In parallel with the national randomized clinical trial, the government is scaling up the national program for collecting plasma so the treatment can be widely rolled out if it is shown to be effective, the department said.
The collection of plasma would be ramped up over April and May to deliver up to 10,000 units of plasma to the National Health Service (NHS) every week, enough to treat 5,000 COVID-19 patients per week.