Cypriot police raided a Long Covid clinic in Larnaca this week where stem cells from donors in Ukraine were found to be illegally used in over-promised chronically ill patients flocking to the southern city. island for treatment.
According to local media, the Ministry of Health and law enforcement officials raided a medical clinic in Larnaca on Thursday following a complaint about lengthy covid patients receiving treatment with undesigned equipment. for the disease.
But the story turned out to be more than just a misuse of equipment, after reports in foreign media already circulating implicated Cyprus in an expensive blood wash to treat long covid.
The clinic in question reportedly used therapeutic plasma apheresis, a process in which whole blood drawn from donors is separated into various components, with foreign patients often risking financial ruin after several weeks of unproven complementary therapies, such as hyperbaric oxygen. and intravenous vitamin infusions.
The Larnaca clinic worked with centers in Ukraine and Slovakia, where donors provided human tissue cells, embryonic stem cells and umbilical cord blood, with treatments costing up to €50,000.
Cypriot authorities reportedly got wind of the operation in early July, according to Ministry of Health official Constantinos Athanasiou, who said there was a news story in British media and a number of advertisements about the clinic in question.
“The administrators visited the specific clinic where they spotted the machine, basically for plasma apheresis, and after contacting the manufacturer, it was determined that the equipment complied with medical device laws, but not for use in patients with long covid syndrome,” Athanasiou said.
The government then sent a letter advising the clinic that the machine was not to be used for a long time, with Athanasiou saying they had received a response saying they would comply.
But after digging deeper, Athanasiou said “it was determined on the spot that the therapies included human cells obtained from foreign countries.”
While stem cell research may be legally permitted in the Republic of Cyprus under strict conditions, the use of embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes is strictly prohibited by EU law.
With no indication that plasma apheresis had been discontinued, the Ministry of Health said it contacted the Cypriot police chief, who ordered law enforcement officers joined by ministry administrators to make a raid on the health center and suspend operations in the specific unit of the clinic.
“Physical evidence has been sealed so that human cells can aid an ongoing police investigation,” Athanasiou said, adding that Health Ministry officials also visited police headquarters to give statements.
State-funded RIK News said on Friday that the Larnaca clinic works with health centers in Ukraine and Slovakia, where donors provide human tissue cells, embryonic stem cells and umbilical cord blood, the treatment costing up to €50,000 per person.
Experts have questioned whether these invasive therapies should be offered, citing the lack of sufficient evidence.
But a lawyer in Cyprus told SigmaTV on Saturday that patients who sign waiver forms and are not victims of fraud or deception have no legal recourse, regardless of the outcome of the procedure.
The Zavos Controversy
It is not the first time that Cyprus and Larnaca have made world headlines in the field of forbidden or experimental medicine.
In 2003, Cypriot-American fertility expert Panayiotis Zavos shocked the medical world when he announced that his team had cloned the first human embryo to make a baby.
Although Cypriot authorities reportedly rejected Zavos’ unofficial request for permission to clone in 2001, media speculated at the time that the controversial Kentucky-based doctor was attempting to perform human cloning on Cypriot soil.
In March 2001, Zavos told a hearing before the US Congress that “the genie has come out of the bottle”, while a year later he told Kathimerini Greece that “2002 will be the year of the clone “.
Following Zavos’ public comments and rampant speculation on his home island, where he was born and raised in Larnaca, the Republic of Cyprus, then an EU candidate, rushed a bill through the House, forcing lawmakers in just 30 minutes to completely ban human cloning.
A criminal investigation by Korean investigators in 2002 named Cyprus yet another possible cloning location after a woman said she was pregnant with a cloned embryo.
The Korean office of a company that made the statement on the woman’s behalf believed that humans were created by extraterrestrials using cloning methods.
Years later, Zavos claimed he had cloned human embryos and transferred them into the wombs of women at an undisclosed location in the Middle East.
The doctor had always claimed that he wanted to help people by trying to recreate deceased loved ones.
But he was condemned for his actions by the global community and even accused of impregnating an unwitting patient with his own sperm.