Plasma from patients in Qatar who 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, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), and the Embassy of Italy in the State of Qatar.
The long-standing 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 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. The plasma from Qatar has been flown to Italy after donors were screened and plasma collected from patients by HMC, with Qatar Foundation facilitating and supervising the collaboration between the HMC Infectious Diseases Research Department and Mater Olbia Hospital.
According to QF Vice President of Research, Development, and Innovation Dr Richard O’Kennedy, science, research, and technology – and consequently humanity – benefit when local and international experts join forces to address common challenges. He said that the global scientific community has perhaps never been as connected and united as it is in these unprecedentedly challenging times.
Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation, he said, stands ready and willing to contribute to Qatar’s efforts to help local and global communities.
HE Qatar Foundation is proud to be part of this bilateral project, working closely with HMC and the Embassy of Italy in Qatar, by facilitating inter-agency coordination and knowledge transfer at a time when they are so urgently needed.
The Ambassador of Italy to the State of Qatar, HE Alessandro Prunas, said they 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 efforts to respond to global issues and share the outcomes with the international community.
Scientific research has become a fundamental aspect of our bilateral, long-lasting cooperation, 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 HMC Communicable Disease Centre and Medical Director for COVID-19, said they have been using plasma therapy on COVID-19 patients as a key part of their 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.
Dr Al Maslamani pointed out the importance of crossing international boundaries to use the world’s best research capability to be able to rapidly find new solutions that will benefit not only the patients in Qatar, but the global population as a whole.
Visit qf.org.qa for updates and more information about this collaboration.