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Qatar Foundation, Hamad Medical Corporation and Embassy of Italy combine to fly Covid-19 patients’ plasma from Qatar to Italy



Qatar Foundation, Hamad Medical Corporation and Embassy of Italy combine to fly Covid-19 patients’ plasma from Qatar to Italy

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, Hamad Medical Corporation, and the Embassy of Italy.

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 today to transport the convalescent plasma (CP) samples.

The samples will be analyzed 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 neutralizing 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 Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), with Qatar Foundation facilitating and supervising the collaboration between HMC’s Infectious Diseases Research Department and Mater Olbia Hospital.

Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Qatar Foundation Vice President of 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 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 coordination

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.”

His Excellency the Ambassador of Italy to the State of Qatar, Alessandro Prunas, said: “We are very proud that top Italian and Qatari medical and research centers 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. 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 the HMC Communicable Disease Centre and Medical Director for COVID-19, said: “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 to provide even more effective treatment to our patients in the future, which is why this is such an important international partnership.

‘COVID-19 is a global pandemic and 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.”