Imee Marcos bats for 'plasma banks' while waiting for COVID-19 vaccine

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2020 07:38 PM

Senate Majority Leader and COVID-19 survivor Juan Miguel Zubiri donates his blood plasma at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, April 21, 2020. Handout photo.

MANILA - Sen. Imee Marcos on Monday pushed for the establishment of blood plasma banks in Philippine hospitals, saying convalescent plasma therapy may help coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients recover while a vaccine against the illness has yet to be formulated.

Marcos filed Senate Bill No. 1648 or the Plasma Donation and Collection Act to "start the process of collecting plasma from donors and establishing facilities" for the plasma banks.

"We must prepare for the long haul," Marcos said in a statement.

"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.

Several hospitals have been using plasma from COVID-19 survivors to help patients who are still battling the illness as the fluid, extracted from blood, contains antibodies against the disease.

Marcos noted that even the World Health Organization has "also sanctioned the use of plasma in other pandemics like the Ebola outbreak in Africa."

Government-sanctioned plasma banks will also help curb the rise of "buying and selling plasma" in parts of Central Visayas, where cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, the senator said.

"[It] would be dismantled if an organized and broader system of plasma donation, collection, and safekeeping was established by the government," her statement read.

Senators Sonny Angara and Juan Miguel Zubiri - who both recovered from COVID-19 - have donated their blood plasma to help other patients infected with the virus.

Last week, Angara launched a blood plasma donation website that links COVID-19 survivors who want to donate plasma to hospitals that are authorized to conduct the therapy.