An Update from I.H.S. Chief Executive Brian O’Mahony – March 19th

March 19th, 2020

Our work and home environments have been altered and impacted very significantly by the SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. There was an outbreak of SARS in 2003. This new virus is one of a class of viruses called Coronaviruses. It is called SARS-CoV-2. It causes severe respiratory disease and is transmitted by droplets or contact. The public health measures which include social distancing, proper cough etiquette and self-isolation where warranted are now well known and are being updated frequently by the Department of Health.

I do not need to repeat them in this article. I want to provide some context from the Society for people with Haemophilia, von Willebrand’s or other inherited bleeding disorders.

Safety of Treatment Products

The standard treatments for people with Haemophilia A are extended half-life recombinant factor concentrates or Emicizumab (Hemlibra). The standard treatments for people with Haemophilia B are extended half-life recombinant factor concentrates. None of these products contain human blood or plasma components and therefore they cannot transmit any potentially blood borne viruses.

The standard treatments for von Willebrand’s or for some of the rare bleeding disorders are plasma derived factor concentrates. The manufacture of all each these products contain viral inactivation and elimination procedures which are sufficient to very effectively destroy lipid enveloped viruses such as Coronavirus.

It is worth remembering that, with the two previous Coronavirus outbreaks (SARS and MERS), there was no evidence of, or no reports of, infection with either of these Coronaviruses through plasma derived factor concentrates.

There is no safety concern in relation to coronavirus and plasma derived factor concentrates.

Supply of Treatment Products

We are fortunate that we have in place a very efficient home delivery system for treatment products for those on prophylaxis or home treatment. In an earlier post on our website today from the National Coagulation Centre, it was confirmed that the early delivery of home treatment next week combined with a 5-week delivery last month will provide individuals with 2 weeks of additional stock. The supply situation will be kept under constant review.
We are not aware of any current threat to the supply chain of treatment products globally. Due to the earlier potential supply risk caused by Brexit, we had increased our stock of factor concentrates in the country.

Attendance at hospitals and treatment centres

We will be posting updated information on our website as often as it is made available on any changes to in-patient or walk in services for people with Haemophilia, von Willebrand’s or rare bleeding disorders. Many of the out-patient appointments at the NCC are now being conducted by telephone consultation. Updated information has been posted on emergency dental services. The information will also be sent out by e mail to any member for whom we have an e-mail address.

We would encourage all members to provide us with your e-mail address if you wish to receive these e-mail notifications. You can send your e-mail address to Barry: barry@haemophilia.ie

Reducing your risk of transmission

Currently, there are no known elevated risk factors to transmission of CoV-19, or an increased predisposition to the severity of the disease for people with Haemophilia or inherited bleeding disorders.

However, there are people in our community who are immune compromised where their ability to combat an infection may be compromised. There are also people in our community over the age 0f 70. All of these individuals should take particular care to comply with all the public health advice. Maintain social distancing and stay away from any person who is showing symptoms. Practice good hand hygiene. Work from home if possible. Avoid all unnecessary travel.

Please keep up to date with the precautions being proposed and get your information from the HSE, mainstream media or other reliable sources such as your treatment centre, GP or the Society.

Services and Support from the Society

The Society staff are all working from home at present. This will be reviewed on a weekly basis. All staff have access to their office files, and we have the ability to carry out most of the routine work. We are unable to schedule visits to members at home or in hospital at present, but we will be carrying out an enhanced service of staying in touch with members by phone.

If you wish to contact the Society staff, call the office as normal. Your call will be automatically redirected to a member of staff. We will stay in touch. Please do contact us if you have a concern or question, or if you just want to chat.

This will be a challenging time for all of us. It is worth reflecting that this community has dealt with some unprecedented challenges in the past with issues such as HIV and Hepatitis C. We have overcome these challenges. We have prevailed. We have emerged as a stronger and more united community. Let us show the same resolve on this occasion where the entire country and indeed the entire world are being challenged. We will prevail.

Brian O’Mahony
Chief Executive

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