Only two donors yet for plasma therapy

Saturday, 25 Apr, 2020

Sudhakar, who is leading the government's efforts against COVID-19 in Bengaluru and is in charge of the state war room, said many people are treating corona as a social stigma, which was not right. "So the more folks who give plasma the better place that we will be in", McKenzie says.

Plasma is a liquid component in blood that contains antibodies, which help neutralize and attack viruses.

Bon Secours Health System recently announced it has joined the Food and Drug Administration's national Expanded Access Program to use convalescent plasma, which is plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, as a treatment for the virus.

A vaccine trains people's immune systems to make their own antibodies against a target germ.

Convalescent plasma - which is taken from survivors of an illness that has antibodies for that illness- is being investigated globally as a potential treatment for the novel virus.

Injecting such "convalescent plasma" into COVID-19 patients has shown some promise as a treatment, but clinicians warn that the research is in its beginning stages. "One donor can donate 400ml of plasma which can save two lives, as 200ml is sufficient to treat one patient", Budhiraja said. Moreover, the fewer antibodies there are in one's blood the longer it has been since one recovered from the infection.

"Plasma is commonly given to trauma, burn and shock patients, as well as people with severe liver disease or multiple clotting factor deficiencies". "We will first collect a sample and test it before asking the patients to come to the blood bank and donate the plasma", he said, and added that collected plasma from recovered patients would be stored for use on other patients in future. As this is a new virus, our body is responding to it in a different way.

Like all therapeutic techniques, there are also downsides. So doctors must consider the risk-benefit ratio before signing off on the procedure. This could delay treatment for some patients, and those experiencing severe conditions might not have time to wait.

Dr Atif Irfan Khan is a junior resident (academic) in the department of transfusion medicine, AIIMS New Delhi.