Federal body says helpline will operate round-the-clock and all information about donors will be kept strictly confidential
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday formally launched a helpline to encourage patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus to donate plasma for treatment of active cases through passive immunization.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the NDMA urged anyone who had recovered from COVID-19 to call the helpline at (0304) 111-0161 to register themselves as a plasma donor. It said that the NDMA had designated an officer to serve as focal person for the registration of plasma donors, adding that the helpline would operate round-the-clock to facilitate donors.
The statement also sought to sooth the minds of those concerned about sharing their personal information, with the spokesperson saying the identity of the donors would be kept strictly confidential.
The government initiative follows citizen-run efforts to compile a database of COVID-19 survivors to help suffering patients receive timely treatment. The ‘Corona Recovered Warriors’ and ‘Blood Volunteers of Pakistan’ groups on Facebook have been leading the charge in helping patients find donors who can provide plasma.
Plasma therapy relies on passive immunization by introducing antibodies from recovered patients to the bloodstream of active cases of COVID-19. Pakistan first tested the measure in early May, and has since employed the technique nationwide to aid in recovery. Similar techniques have been used over the last 125 years to treat illnesses such as influenza, Ebola and SARS.
On Tuesday, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza met head of the National Institute of Blood Diseases Dr. Tahir Shamsi in Islamabad to discuss the results of treatment through passive immunization. After the meeting, the federal government decided to extend the scope of plasma therapy throughout the country.