What is Plasma Therapy?
Plasma therapy is used for treating several infectious diseases. Convalescent-plasma therapy is a type of therapy in which blood plasma from recovered patients is administered to people who are currently suffering from the same disease. Convalescent-plasma therapy is being used in several clinical trials across the world for the treatment of COVID-19. In the list of countries using plasma therapy for treating coronavirus patients, names like India, UK, USA, etc feature.
Plasma Therapy before Coronavirus
This is not the first time plasma therapy is being used for treating an infectious disease. The use of plasma therapy for coronavirus was recently preceded by the use of this procedure for the treatment of the Ebola virus disease. In 2014, plasma therapy was recommended by the (WHO) World Health Organisation as a treatment for the Ebola virus .
How Plasma Therapy works in COVID-19 patients?
The most common coronavirus symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, tiredness, aches and pains, headaches, and loss of sense of taste and smell. There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests available in most countries. One is a viral test that reveals if the infection is present in the body at the time of testing. The other test is the antibody test that reveals if the person had the infection previously. The novel coronavirus has escalated into a global pandemic claiming thousands of lives. As there are no approved treatments for COVID-19 for critical patients yet, such patients are being put on ventilators. Treatments for COVID-19 are also decided based on individual cases and the health of the patient.
Plasma therapy involves introducing the blood plasma of a recovered coronavirus patient into the body of a patient who is presently affected by the virus. The plasma of the recovered person has antibodies present that were created by the immune system to fight the virus. When the plasma with antibodies is introduced in the body of a sick person, passive immunization results in the body fighting against the virus more efficiently. This leads to a quicker recovery. Plasma therapy in COVID-19 is being touted as a potential cure for the deadly virus.
More information regarding plasma therapy, the coronavirus and its treatment can be found at:
What is the procedure?
The plasma therapy procedure involves drawing blood from recovered patients of COVID 19. The plasma with the antibodies is separated from the blood. The blood is then returned to the body of the donor. Donors who have high concentrations of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their plasma will be the most useful in this therapy. The plasma of the recovered patient is administered to the presently sick patients. This helps the patient fight the infection as antibodies are present in the body now. New antibodies are also formed.
Who can donate plasma?
Eligibility criteria for plasma donor for COVID 19 includes the following:
- Age of the donor must be between 18 to 60 years
- Bodyweight should be above 50kg
- The pulse rate should be normally between 50-100 with no irregularities
- Body temperature and blood pressure should be normal
- The donor should not suffer from any chronic or infectious disease
- The donor has not gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 6 months
- The donor has haemoglobin level of minimum 12.5 g/dL
Risks and Side Effects for Covid-19 patients
Plasma therapy risk in COVID patients is a serious concern. Plasma transfusion can carry several risks such as transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) which can cause respiratory failure, transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO) which can cause heart failure, anaphylactic shocks, and allergic reactions, hemolysis and other pathogens being acquired from the donor’s blood.
How is it being used in India?
Plasma therapy for COVID-19 in India is showing great promise. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given permission to states to carry out experimental clinical trials using plasma therapy. With no vaccine in sight, plasma therapy has great potential to become the coronavirus treatment the world is waiting for.