MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has urged individuals who have recovered from the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to donate blood following studies that show that antibodies may help improve the condition of severely-infected patients.
Duterte made this call praising the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) for considering the use of antibodies found in the blood of Covid-19 survivors to treat patients who were severely ill.
“Ang pag-asa natin is — including UP, itong atin ipagmalaki rin natin ang mga doktor natin. Iyang mga bright. ‘Yung na — gumaling na, nagkaroon na ‘yan sila ng antibodies (Our hope is…including UP, we take pride in our doctors. They’re bright. They found out that those who have recovered from Covid-19 have antibodies),” he said in a meeting with select members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) early Thursday morning.
UP-PGH spokesperson Jonas del Rosario earlier appealed for blood donations from Covid-19 survivors since antibodies found in their blood serve as a protection from the disease.
Duterte said Covid-19 survivors would be doing the country a huge favor by donating their blood.
“Ang mga taga-UP they are (The experts from UP) — they are trying to figure out na ‘yung nakalabas na sa — lahat na nagmamag — mag mabuting-loob kayo. And I think kung ako (those that have been released from the hospitals, do us a kind favor. If it were me), I should volunteer. That is the way of thanking God that you have survived,” Duterte said.
Duterte said donating blood would help save lives.
“Magpakuha kayo kasi ‘yun ang dugo ninyo — ‘yung plasma ninyo ‘yun ang i-inject doon sa mga tinamaan (Get your blood drawn—because the plasma can be injected to those infected),” he added.
In an interview with GMA News, del Rosario said the use of antibodies is still at the “experimental stage” and should not be considered standard care.
Antibodies, which protect the body from diseases, are protein found in the blood that is produced in response to foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses invading the body, according to the US-based Center for Disease Control.
Duterte also reminded the public anew to wear face masks to minimize the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.
Throughout the IATF meeting, Duterte was seen wearing a face mask himself despite his obvious discomfort and annoyance.
“Mag-maskara tayo. Kung wala pang vaccine mga Christmas time, sabay na tayo sa mga hold-upper (Let’s all wear masks. If there is no vaccine until Christmas time, we could all be hold-uppers),” he said.
Duterte has been very vocal about his dislike for face masks on numerous occasions, saying he had trouble breathing in them and took last night’s meeting as another chance to say so.
“Hirap akong magsalita. Ang sikip kasi (I have a hard time talking. It’s too tight),” he said.
Despite admitting that he would rather not wear one, he said he did it to comply with the IATF’s guidelines.
The IATF members present during the meeting were also wearing face masks.
“Kasi lahat sila nakamaskara. Mahiya naman ako kasi ang order ko huwag kayong lumabas ng walang maskara. Tapos makikita ninyo lahat sila, ako lang ang hindi (They’re all wearing masks. I would be ashamed not to wear them because my order is don’t leave home without masks. And you’d see them, and I would be the only one not wearing one),” he said.
Last week, Cabinet Secretary and IATF Spokesperson Karlo Nograles bared that the IATF has required the mandatory wearing of face masks or other protective equipment for residents in areas placed under Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine when leaving their homes.
“For areas placed under ECQ, the IATF hereby adopts the policy of mandatory wearing by all residents of face masks, earloop masks, indigenous, reusable or do-it-yourself masks, face shields, handkerchiefs, or such other protective equipment that can effectively lessen the transmission of Covid-19, whenever allowed to go out of their residences pursuant to existing guidelines issued by the national government,” he said.
He urged local government units (LGUs) to issue necessary executive orders or ordinances to require the use of face mask and impose such penalties for offenders. (IA/pna)