Since the outbreak of the pandemic Covid’s 19, the world’s scientists from all parts of the world are busy discovering that one effective and 100% sure solution to this problem. As discussed the trials of the vaccines for corona are going on in the entire world in the previous article, we now will discuss the other strategies being used to find the solution. One of the very popular and age-old strategies, COVID 19 – Plasma Therapy is the talk of the town since March 2020.
As we know how the vaccines work, they use ‘antigens’ which are the weakened or killed versions of the disease-causing germs, these are being injected into the human body without getting one sick. They provide immunity against the germ (virus/bacteria etc) and this is how they are used.
On the other hand, Plasma Serum also works in a somewhat similar way. Plasma is the clear and straw-colored liquid that is left when red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBC’s), platelets, and many other cellular components. It comprises 55% of the entire blood and is the largest component of the blood containing salts, enzymes, water, proteins, and antibodies. Plasma alone has many essential functions in the body including blood clotting and most importantly fighting diseases.
There has been news since March 2020, that plasma from Corona Virus Survivors can treat patients suffering from it. For this they have asked the patients who were fully recovered from Covid, to donate their blood. Blood is checked thoroughly for infections such as HIV or hepatitis etc, then by a process called Plasmapheresis, the blood is separated from plasma. The plasma is screened and tested to make sure it has all the potent antibodies which can be used effectively to treat and prevent Covid-19. Then it is infused into the recipient’s body through a process similar to blood transfusion safely.
In May 2020, ICMR had approved 38 Hospitals across India to participate in CP Therapy trials (Convalescent plasma therapy). The trials were done on around 450 patients and it was unclear how many of them benefited from it. There are always challenges that come in the way of plasma therapy like the side effects of the transfusion, any such transfer of blood/ plasma imposes chances of infections to be carried forwarded like hepatitis, HIV, and many more. These all make the process quite hard and risky. So only a few quality donors can be used.
Results from small case trials were found to be effective and confer clinical benefits. But lately, on 6th of October, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) clearly stated that ‘No Benefit of Plasma Therapy’. It is also stated that Convalescent plasma therapy has not been recommended as the mainstay of Covid-19 by the Ministry of Health, and there are also no proposals for setting up plasma banks.