Plasma therapy trial takes off with recovered Covid-19 patients coming forward to donate blood


The convalescent plasma therapy trial initiated in the country for treating Covid-19 patients has evoked good response with many recovered patients in several states coming forward to donate their plasma to save others suffering from the deadly disease.  

Four corona-positive patients at Lok Nayak Hospital and two at Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences began plasma therapy as part of a clinical trial initiated by Delhi government. State health minister Satyendar Jain said on Saturday that four of the six patients who received plasma therapy have shown improvement in respiratory symptoms.

Many of 129 Tablighi Jamaat members who came out negative after treatment at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIMS) have also agreed to donate their blood plasma. Dr Sushma Bhatnagar, chairperson of Covid-19 services at the Jhajjar hospital, told Times of India that they were working on the logistics for the donation and their stay. She added that the Tablighi members had also agreed to give their blood sample for future research.

There are at least 38 Covid-19 patients in Delhi who currently require ICU and ventilator support.

In Uttar Pradesh, the process for the new therapy has begun at the King George’s Medical University (KGMU) at Lucknow with a recovered resident doctor donating his plasma. Dr. Tauseef Khan, who was discharged from hospital on April 7, is the first person to donate the plasma in the state.

KGMU Head of Transfusion Medicine, KGMU, Tulika Chandra said that Dr Khan’s plasma will be administered on Monday or Tuesday to a patient who is in a serious condition and in whose case medicines aren't working.

Khan, in his late 20s, contracted coronavirus from a patient while working at KGMU as a resident doctor and tested positive for the infection on March 17. He was discharged from the hospital on April 7 and is now back at work after a 14-day home quarantine.

On April 21, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had asked the state's medical authorities to promote plasma therapy for the treatment of COVID-19 patients after examining its efficacy.

Hospital in several other states have also kicked off the process for the trial with recovered patients coming forward to donate their plasma. The initiative got a big boost in Gujarat with over forty Muslim patients who were discharged from a hospital in Vadodara on Thursday giving their consent to donate their blood plasma.

A 40-year-old man, who has already recovered from COVID-19, is likely to be the first plasma donor in Karnataka, which is the late entrant in the plasma trial.

Clinical trials of plasma therapy, approved by the Drug Controller General of India, were launched at the Bengaluru Medical College and Research Institute on Saturday. The trials are in collaboration with city-based HCG Private Ltd.

An HR professional from Kerala working in Dubai, the 40-year-old was home quarantined after he returned to India on March 20th. A few other patients have also come forward to donate plasma in the state.

With no effective treatment for the virus available at present, several countries have given nod for the convalescent plasma therapy. The idea behind this therapy is that immunity can be transferred from a healthy person to a sick patient using convalescent plasma. This therapy uses antibodies from the blood of a cured coronavirus patient to treat another critical patient.

The recovered COVID-19 patient's blood develops antibodies to battle against COVID-19. Once the blood of the recovered patient is infused to the second patient, those antibodies will start fighting against coronavirus in the second person's body.

The process of donating plasma is similar to donating blood and takes about an hour. Pre-donation checks would be done for a recovered patient before plasma is extracted from his body. Routine blood test and Haemoglobin Estimation would be done for the donor at the beginning.

Next, the blood is checked for infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, and other locally transmitted infections. Further, Immunity measurement is done by checking total SARS-CoV2 antibodies and SARS-CoV2 neutralizing antibodies (with inputs from media reports)

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