QF, HMC and Italian embassy join hands to fly Covid-19 patients’ plasma from Qatar to Italy
June 20 2020 09:54 PM
From left: Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director of the HMC Communicable Disease Center and medical
From left: Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director of the HMC Communicable Disease Center and medical director for Covid-19; Dr Azza Altawashi, Industry, Investment and Business Development manager, Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation; Alessandro Prunas, Italian ambassador to Qatar; and Colonel Angelo Del Lungo, Italian defence attaché.

* International science collaboration will support research into how convalescent plasma can provide vital treatment pathway for Covid-19

Plasma from patients in Qatar who have recovered from Covid-19 has been flown to Italy to help identify potentially life-saving treatments for the disease, through a partnership between Qatar Foundation (QF), Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the Italian embassy.

The longstanding ties between Qatar and Italy have led to a scientific collaboration that is supporting the global battle against the pandemic, resulting in an Italian military aircraft taking off from Doha on Saturday to transport the convalescent plasma (CP) samples.

The samples will be analysed at the University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy, with the Sardinia-based Mater Olbia Hospital then assessing the data, studying how the human immune system responds to CP, and determining different types of Sars-CoV-2 – the coronavirus strain that causes Covid-19 - antibodies. CP from recovered Covid-19 patients is usually rich in antibodies that fight the virus, making it a promising treatment, but data on this is currently limited.

The aim of the Qatar-Italy scientific project is to find evidence that CP contains sufficient levels of neutralising antibodies to successfully treat Covid-19 patients, according to a press statement. The plasma from Qatar has been flown to Italy after donors were screened and plasma collected from patients by Hamad Medical Corporation, with QF facilitating and supervising the collaboration between HMC’s Infectious Diseases Research Department and Mater Olbia Hospital.

Dr Richard O’Kennedy, QF vice-president, Research, Development and Innovation, said: “Science, research and technology – and consequently humanity – benefit when local and international experts join forces to address common challenges. The global scientific community has perhaps never been as connected and united as it is in these unprecedentedly challenging times.

The partnership between QF, HMC and the Italian embassy has seen convalescent plasma samples flown from Qatar to Italy.

“The provision of convalescent plasma samples from Covid-19 patients in Qatar to expert biomedical researchers in Italy reflects the longstanding and valued research ties between our nations. Qatar Foundation is proud to be part of this bilateral project, working closely with Hamad Medical Corporation and the embassy of Italy in Qatar, by facilitating inter-agency

co-ordination and knowledge transfer at a time when they are so urgently needed.

"Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation stands ready and willing to contribute to Qatar’s efforts to help local and global communities.”

Italian ambassador to Qatar Alessandro Prunas said, “We are very proud that top Italian and Qatari medical and research centres are working together on a project that can make a real difference to people and save lives. This is a perfect example of how our countries can join their efforts to respond to global issues and share the outcomes with the international community.

Officials mark the occasion

"Scientific research has become a fundamental aspect of our bilateral, long-lasting co-operation, and I am confident that Italy and Qatar will soon further strengthen their commitment to develop new projects that unlock the untapped potential in this sector.”

Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director of the HMC Communicable Disease Center and medical director for Covid-19, noted: “We have been using plasma therapy on Covid-19 patients as a key part of our extensive treatment protocol, and there are early promising results from this work.

“Learning more about the impact of plasma therapy will help us provide even more effective treatment to our patients in the future, which is why this is such an important international partnership.

"It is so important that we cross international boundaries to use the world’s best research capability to be able to rapidly find new solutions that will not only benefit patients in Qatar, but also the global population as a whole.”

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