France starts Covid-19 plasma transfusion trials

The trial involves transfusing plasma - the liquid part of blood in which antibodies are found - from the blood of people recovered from Covid-19, into patients with acute illness

France has started a new clinical trial against Covid-19 that aims to save lives if successful, as confinement continues and the number of deaths is still rising daily.

The trial began yesterday (Tuesday April 8).

It is being overseen by Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), health research organisation Inserm, and blood authority l’Etablissement Français du Sang (EFS).

It involves transfusing plasma - the liquid part of blood in which antibodies are found - from the blood of people recovered from Covid-19, into that of patients in an acute stage of the illness.

The trial will use plasma from 200 people who have recovered from Covid-19. It will be carried out on 60 ill patients - 30 of whom will receive the plasma while the other 30 will receive a placebo. The first participants began plasma donations yesterday.

The group has said that a first evaluation is expected in “two or three weeks”. Already, Eldad Hod has said that each plasma donation could “save three or four lives”.

 

Confinement continues

The trial comes as more than 10,328 people have now died in France from Covid-19-related causes. Since the beginning of March, 7,091 deaths have been recorded in hospitals, in addition to 3,237 in elderly care homes.

In the past 24 hours, 607 people died nationwide - the highest number of reported deaths in one day since the start of the epidemic.

The spread of Covid-19 in France: Confirmed cases / Hospital deaths / Deaths in elderly care homes

(CHART: LeMonde.fr / Source : Santé Publique France. Note: As only severe cases are being tested, the number of cases under-represents the reality of the epidemic.)

France began confinement at midday on March 17, and the measures are set to remain until at least April 15, with a further extension appearing likely.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner has authorised local authorities to impose further constraints if they see fit, including the city of Paris limiting jogging to outside the hours of 10-19h, and Nice (Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) among those to impose a curfew and saying it wants to make the wearing of masks obligatory for the public.

Read more: Paris bans outdoor exercise between 10:00 and 19:00​

Authorities in Béziers (Hérault, Occitanie) have removed all benches from the town centre, while the mayor of Sceaux (Hauts-de-Seine, ‎Île-de-France) has taken out a decree making it mandatory for people to cover their mouth and nose before they leave the house.

In his latest daily update, director general of health Jérôme Salomon said: “Talking about ‘deconfinement’ today makes no sense.”

Professor Salomon has now announced a massive testing push in medical elderly care homes.

French newspaper Le Monde reported that “a source close to the head of State” said: “It would be premature to speak of a date of exiting [confinement]. We must wait until the number of patients in intensive care has dropped, which is not yet the case. The virus is far from disappearing.”

Hospitalisations by department (Updated April 8)

(MAP: LeMonde.fr / Source : Santé Publique France)

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