Saudi medical study launched to test the effectiveness of plasma in treating COVID-19

A lab technician freeze packs donated convalescent plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients for shipping to local hospitals at Inova Blood Services on April 22, 2020 in Dulles, Virginia. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 03 May 2020

Saudi medical study launched to test the effectiveness of plasma in treating COVID-19

  • The study team asked all the COVID-19 recovered patients who were eligible to contribute to the urgent study to register their information at www.plasmaforcovid.com

RIYADH: A number of Saudi health and research centers have launched a study to test therapeutic options to treat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by using plasma from recovered patients.

The study aims to test the effectiveness of plasma in treating advanced cases of the disease after taking blood components from those who are eligible and volunteered to participate in the study.

Plasma plays a critical part in the treatment of many serious health problems, as it contains antibodies that help the human body to recover.

Similar studies are being conducted globally as the world races to find a cure and treatment for COVID-19, that has infected over 3.5 million and caused a little over 240,000 fatalities worldwide.

Dr. Hani Al-Hashmi, director of the Oncology Center at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, told Arab News that the study aims to reach therapeutic solutions based on solid medical studies.

Al-Hashmi added that the study had been approved by both the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) almost 2 weeks ago, and that the study team had since begun extracting plasma from recovered patients, adding that the results of the study would be announced after the study was completed.

According to Al-Hashmi, there are more than 20 health and research centers working on the project, and among the study team there are 21 main researchers with specialties in hematology, immunology, infectious diseases, intensive care and blood transfusion.

He added that every recovered patient willing to participate in the study would undergo a thorough  check-up before the start of the blood transfusion process as per the approved protocol of the study, adding that they could start taking plasma from recovered patients after the second “negative” sample result, and after the recovered patient completed 14 days in home quarantine.

The study team asked all the COVID-19 recovered patients who were eligible to contribute to the urgent study to register their information at www.plasmaforcovid.com

Meanwhile, in today’s daily Ministry of Health press conference, Dr. Abdullah Asiri, assistant deputy minister for preventive health and an infectious disease consultant, spoke of various studies and trials currently being conducted in the Kingdom, one of which is a clinical trial in partnership with the World Health Organization’s global research initiative for COVID-19 treatments.

Seven hospitals are currently conducting a clinical study, launched a few weeks ago, aimed to find a number of therapeutic protocols that have proven successful in the first phase of testing in labs or previous studies on volunteers.

“Three out of four of these protocols are trials using broad spectrum anti-viral medications previously used to treat various viral infections,” said Abdullah. “It is unknown if they (anti-viral drugs) could shorten the recovery period of those infected.”

Patients with prior respiratory infections admitted to any of the seven hospitals mentioned will join the clinical trial to identify the medication’s efficiency and will be closely monitored to follow up on the patients’ conditions.

“Duration of the clinical trial may vary depending on the number of patients involved and patients’ response,” he added, with initial results to be announced within the coming weeks to see if these medications are successful to use as treatment for COVID-19.

 


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”