Yesterday, a China Eastern Airlines flight from Shanghai arrived in Rome with a shipment of medical supplies and a team of health experts. In fact, the Airbus A350-900 came with 31 tons of supplies – assisting Italy in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
According to People, the China Eastern Airbus A350 widebody landed around 22:30 local time at Rome Fiumicino’s cargo zone. Accompanying the 31 tons of supplies was a nine-member team of medical experts.
The team was organized by the National Health Commission and the Red Cross Society of China. In fact, it is the third expert team sent abroad by Chinese authorities. The two previous teams were dispatched to Iran and Iraq.
The Chinese team departed Shanghai around 17:30. According to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, all team members and flight crew passed health checks before boarding the plane.
Upon arrival, it was greeted by a crowd of local experts from the Italian Red Cross as well as officials of the Italian Foreign Ministry and delegates from the Chinese Embassy to Italy.
What was in the shipment?
According to sources, Italian health authorities had a say in what was brought over. The specific supplies were apparently proven to be useful during clinical practices in China, according to Ruijin Hospital of the School of Medicine at Shanghai Jiaotong University, which had prepared the equipment.
Included in the 31 tons of supplies were 700 pieces of equipment and goods including ventilators, monitors and defibrillators. This also includes 30 sets of ICU equipment.
“Tonight Italy is not alone. Many people in the world are supporting us,” -Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio
Special medical contents included
Reportedly included in the shipment of supplies was the plasma of recovered coronavirus patients. While this is not what most people think of when envisioning ‘medical supplies’, it is believed that transfusions of this substance will assist in reducing the death rate of those infected.
According to STAT News, medical literature published during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 includes case reports documenting how transfusions of blood products obtained from survivors may have contributed to a 50% reduction in death among severely ill patients. In more recent examples, plasma-derived therapy was used to treat patients during outbreaks of Ebola and avian flu.
Furthermore, on Wednesday, Japanese company Takeda Pharmaceutical said it was developing a new drug derived from the blood plasma of recovered patients. This approach is based on the idea that antibodies developed by recovered patients could strengthen the immune system of new patients.
This recent shipment, in combination with Italy’s total lockdown, will hopefully reduce and contain the spread of the disease. Italy is the European epicenter for the outbreak, with over 15,000 confirmed cases including over 1,000 deaths at the time of writing.
For many countries around the world, containment and isolation is the key message and strategy. In fact, the United States announced a travel ban on travelers from Europe while Kuwait has gone even further, banning commercial flights completely (as well as a closure of all land borders).