Uganda starts using plasma to treat COVID-19

By John Tugume

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Uganda has okayed the use of plasma in COVID-19 treatment, the Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday.

The clinical trials start on Thursday at Mulago National Referral Hospital. 
Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng unveiled the new development at Makerere University on Wednesday.

According to Dr. Bruce Kirenga, the principal investigator in the use of COViD-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) as an investigational drug, they were able to collect 162 units of plasma but only 127 are viable and will be used during the first trial.

He said each COVID-19 patient needs two units of the plasma.

Aceng with some team members who have been working on the project. Photos by nancy Nanyonga


Therefore, they are calling upon more recovered patients to show up and donate.

Uganda becomes the third country in Africa to use plasma in COVID-19 treatment. The other two are South Africa and Ghana. Other developed countries like the US are already using it.

Dr. Bruce explained that upon recovery, people who have suffered from COVID-19 develop antibodies and it is these antibodies that are being used to treat those who are sick.

He said there is evidence that when plasma is administered to a COVID-19 patient, it blocks the progression of the disease to the severe form.

Aceng asked the public to continue observing the SOPs.


In her remarks, Aceng noted that much as there is no COVID-19 cure yet, the addition of plasma to the treatment regimen will go a long way in reducing the mortality due to the virus.

She, however, urged Ugandans to observe the Standard Operating Procedures on COVID-19 prevention as scientists are trying their best to find a lasting solution.

Aceng said with time, they will roll out the treatment protocol to regional referrals and other COVID-19 treatment centres.

The project is funded by the Government.