Plasma Therapy : A cure for COVID-19?


Introduction – Due to the increase in the COVID-19 cases, scientists are trying to develop different antidotes as a treatment for COVID-19, one such treatment that we came across  is Convalescent Plasma Therapy. Today  different parts of the country are using convalescent plasma therapy as a treatment for the patients with COVID -19 cases. The states where this therapy has been used has also shown positive results on some patients.

What is Plasma Therapy—Convalescent Plasma therapy is an experimental procedure for COVID-19 patients. Plasma Therapy aims at using antibodies from the blood of the recovered COVID-19 patient to treat people who are critically affected by the virus. This therapy’s concept is simple and is based on the premise that when our immune system is attacked by a pathogen, it produces proteins called antibodies to fight the infection. If the infected person can produce sufficient antibodies, he can recover from the disease caused by that pathogen. This therapy can also be used to immunize those people who are at high risk of contracting the virus such as family members of the infected person, health workers, etc.

So, basically in this therapy blood from the recovered patients, which is rich in antibodies is used for the treatment of the people who are infected from the virus.

When was this idea developed?

The concept of plasma therapy dates back more than a century, when Emil von Behring (Nobel Prize winner for medicine, 1901), a German physiologist in 1890, discovered the serum obtained from a rabbit infected with diphtheria was effective in preventing the diphtheria infection.

Thus, similar treatments have been attempted in the past during several outbreaks including a fish-eating bacteria epidemic in the 1930s, diphtheria outbreak in 1920s and Spanish fu outbreak during 1918. More recently it was tried for Ebola and other coronavirus diseases like MERS in 2012 and SARS in 2003 with varied efficacy. With some improved techniques, the method appears much more safe and effective now then ever before.

Plasma Therapy’s use in India

The Indian Council for Medical Research(ICMR) recently permitted the states to carry out “ experimental” procedure through clinical trials on patients infected with COVID-19. It has not yet recommended as a standard treatment for Coronavirus. It is just in the trial stage.

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The first patient who was administered plasma therapy in delhi has now fully recovered and was discharged on Sunday with a promising prognosis. The patient had been weaned off ventilator support 7 days ago at the Max Hospital in Saket. He was tested positive for COVID-19 on April 4. According to the doctors a single donor can donate 400ml of plasma hich is sufficient for the treatment of two persons, as 200ml is for one person.

 Conclusion –   Plasma therapy for coronavirus is still in an experimental stage and can even prove “life threatening”  for a patient, the govt. said today amid a surge of hope brought in by the first successful test in delhi. Lav Agrawal, senior health ministry official during a daily briefing said that there is “no concrete evidence to support plasma therapy as coronavirus treatment”.”The therapy is still in an experimental stage and the Indian Council of Medical Research is conducting a national study on it. It can even be life threatening,” he added. When country’s first plasma therapy’s success reported in Delhi last week, the positive result triggered a rush  to donate plasma and Mumbai also started its plasma therapy trial today ( 21/04/20).

ICMR- the nodal body for the fight against coronavirus in the country, has called for trials across the country to assess plasma treatment which is just one of the way to control coronavirus and which is completely new to humans. ICMR has made it clear that even for the purposes of trial, it can be used only on critical patients who are on ventilator support.


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