Dutch doctors have rejected a plan to treat people infected with Ebola with blood transfusions after being told that such transfusions would cause a major public health problem.
According to Dutch news agency ANP, doctors in the country’s third-largest city of Utrecht said they were “completely opposed to the idea of using blood transfusion to treat patients with Ebola”.
“We don’t want to treat them in a way that could lead to a serious public health issue,” a doctor said.
“The problem with this is that it would put people at risk of catching Ebola and the need to take such drastic measures could create a public health crisis,” he added.
The doctor said that, although he was “not sure” whether the transfusions could lead Ebola-infected patients to develop fever, the idea was “no better than a water filter”.
He said the only way to avoid such a situation was to use a special blood-based vaccine to stop Ebola spreading, saying it could have been developed and manufactured within two weeks.
“We have no idea how this will work in practice,” the doctor said, adding that the vaccine was currently being tested.
“You have to be very careful not to infect patients,” the same doctor said of treating Ebola patients with blood.
“It’s an interesting problem because you can’t get into the blood supply, and you can also get into people’s blood.”
“There is a risk of transmission,” the other doctor added.
“But we don’t know how it’s going to work in the real world.”
An unnamed doctor from Utrech said that he had been approached by a group of Dutch citizens who wanted to donate blood to treat a person with Ebola, and that they had not received a direct response from the Dutch health system.
The country’s health minister, Jan van der Heijden, said that the decision to reject the blood transfests was made because “there was no direct evidence” that the procedure could be performed safely.
Van der Heik said the vaccine could be developed within two months and would be tested for safety in a “controlled environment”.
“The virus has mutated, and if there is a vaccine for it, it should be tested in an in-house lab and be available for use within two or three weeks,” he said.