A paper published in Journal of American Medical Association has emphasized on the use of Convalescent Plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients. Further the U.S. FDA has approved the use of plasma from recovered patients to treat people who are critically ill with COVID-19.
With no specific treatment available for novel coronavirus disease and a vaccine at least a year away, countries can rely on this for saving patient’s lives.
About the Therapy:
- It seeks to make use of the antibodies developed in the recovered patient against the coronavirus.
- The whole blood or plasma from such people is taken, and the plasma is then injected in critically ill patients so that the antibodies are transferred and boost their fight against the virus.
Usage in Past:
- The United States used plasma of recovered patients to treat patients of Spanish flu (1918-1920).
- Hong Kong used it to treat SARS patients in 2005.
- In 2009, H1N1 patients were treated with plasma. Convalescent plasma reduced respiratory tract viral load, serum cytokine response, and mortality in H1N1 patients.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea adopted the same for treating Ebola patients in 2014.
- In 2015, plasma was used for treating MERS patients.
Procedure of Therapy:
- The process to infuse plasma in a patient can be completed quickly. It only requires standard blood collection practices, and extraction of plasma.
- If whole blood is donated (350-450 ml), a blood fractionation process is used to separate the plasma.
- Otherwise, a special machine called aphaeresis machine can be used to extract the plasma directly from the donor.
- While blood is indeed extracted from the donor, the aphaeresis machine separates and extracts the plasma using a plasma kit, and the remaining blood components are returned into the donor’s body.
WHO Guidelines on Plasma Therapy, 2014:
- It mandates a donor’s permission before extracting plasma.
- Plasma from only recovered patients must be taken, and donation must be done from people not infected with HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, or any infectious disease.
- If whole blood is collected, the plasma is separated by sedimentation or centrifugation, then injected in the patient.
- If plasma needs to be collected again from the same person, it must be done after 12 weeks of the first donation for males and 16 weeks for females.
Can it be Done in India ?
- India has facilities for removing 500 ml of plasma from a donor using aphaeresis.
- Experts say the treatment could be effective for patients in the age group 40-60, but may be less effective for people aged beyond 60 years.
- The move would require a series of approvals as India has never done this before for combating any disease.
- While plasma transfers immunity from one person to another, it is not known if it can save lives in COVID-19 infection.
- However, past records show the efficacy of treatment against diseases like Spanish Flu, HINI etc.. when no specific vaccination or treatment was available for them.
- So it can be tried by India.
Also read: MPLADS Funds To Be Used To Combat COVID-19
Image Source: The Hindu