Patronizing the dark web for plasma is risky

Following the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for plasma has risen to a point where cybercriminals comfortably sell it online. According to the Health Ministry, Malaysians should not buy plasma from these phony sources.

Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham, its director-general, mentioned that black markets don’t select the plasma donor. So, patronizing dark web markets like these would be dangerous.

He added, “Meanwhile, the collection, processing, and screening of the blood is not handled with adequate care. Typically, these processes are not monitored or carried out based on medical standards.”

He mentioned to The Star, “The consequences can include several complications like contamination of the blood. The patient might even end up receiving bacterial sepsis or viral infections, resulting in death or morbidity.”

His response was to reports of cybercriminals on the dark web selling blood, which allegedly belonged to recovered Covid-19b patients. These samples were marketed as a “passive vaccine”; on the dark web.

The American National Public Radio reported increased demand for plasma donations from Covid-19 patients in the U.S. its report showed that both non-profit and profiting organizations had contributed to this market at whooping levels.

He added, “currently, there is enough stock of convalescent Plasma”; so, for designated hospitals treating Covid-19 cases with the CP treatment, this stock is sufficiently available.”

CP donations by recovered patients of Covid-19 is underway at the National Blood Center (PDN). It also is in collaboration with the Infectious Disease Department of Hospital Sungai Buloh.
According to him, the donations of CP at the PDN were carried out with strict safety standards. Thus, the safety of both the donor and recipients is ensured. The screening, processing, and distribution of the CP also guarantees its utmost quality.

He also mentioned, that only licensed assay systems based on national and international standards are used for blood screening. Therefore, there is enough staff with adequate training and equipment for all-time medical service. It is also ensured that the laboratory is maintained in a good quality system. 
The selection of every donor follows certain criteria according to the proposed Interim Guidance for the Collection, Processing, and Use of Convalescent Plasma for Experimental Treatment of Covid-19

Meanwhile, it is possible to experience a shortage of resulting in ethical issues, and such a case might bring about the formation of a committee to decide how the CP will be allocated.

Some global evidence has shown that Covid-10 patients might also merit the reception of CP. According to these reports, CP contains useful antibodies that can wade off virus attack, he added.

He also mentioned that antibody-rich plasma could subdue the disease’s effects, thereby improving a patient’s condition. But, further research is needed to guarantee how safe and effective CP transfusions are.

The CP treatment in Malaysia may be experimented with severe Covid-19 infection cases. It might also be for only Grade 4 for and 5 of Covid-19 cases that do not respond to regular treatment protocols.

He stated that the physicians in charge of treatment would tell whether or not a CP transfusion is needed. There is no need to visit the deep web or darkweb links to source plasma.

Nr Noor Hisham also shared news reports of mischievous parties exploiting the troubled public during this pandemic.

The ministry is trying everything possible to ensure the public is protected via provisions of the law.  We hope that the public themselves take responsibilities into their hands and play their respective roles.

He added,”organizations, and the public, should talk to relevant authorities in case of any suspected fraudulent act or products bring marketed. People should also seek medical treatment at healthcare facilities of the government or ministry only. Another option for medical consultation should be limited to licensed private healthcare centers only. 

Act 586 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (1998) regulates certain activities related to the handling of blood. These activities included the exchange, supply, importation, exportation, and storage of blood and its products, including plasma.
Act 586, under Section 55, states that no person can involve in the supply of human blood or blood products. Likewise, under Section 56, no person without certification from the Health Ministry can trade (import or export) human blood or related products for transfusion purposes.Anyone who contradicts these provisions is a criminal who can be charged under Act 586 of the law.

Will this be enough to deter sellers on the dark web? Time will tell.