COVID-19 began infecting humans during the celebration of New Year 2020 and since then it has continuously killed and infected thousands of people. The numbers of infected are going up every day with no sign of stopping. Scientists and researchers all around the world are exploring each and every possibility to create a cure for the novel coronavirus. Among the many ways the virus can be treated, China and the US believe that convalescent plasma therapy that is plasma of cured patients can be the answer to fight COVID-19.
About plasma theory
Convalescent plasma therapy means using plasma of cured patients’ blood to treat those who are infected or who are at high risk of contracting the virus such as health workers and government workers. The blood of a patient who is recovered from coronavirus contains certain antibodies that have been built as a part of the treatment or natural response to fight the pathogen. These antibodies have the ability to fight the coronavirus. These antibodies are injected in patients under treatment which will then be fighting the virus in the patient’s body. Researchers inform that it can be used as a preventive measure and not a cure for the coronavirus.
How this theory is being tested in India
In India, along with the Indian Council of Medical Research, two hospitals – The Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and private Max Hospital have volunteered to conduct trials to test the effectiveness of the therapy. While The Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences has already received approval to conduct the trials, Max hospitals await approval. Even after the virus has gone from the body of the patient, the antibodies remain in the body. Antibodies from 1600 people who have recovered in India will be used to test the theory. The treatment will be provided only to patients in a critical situation — those with a respiratory rate greater than 30 breaths per minute (normal 18-20 breaths per minute), less than 90 percent oxygen saturation (normal 95-100 percent) or have substances like pus in their lungs. As for donors, only those who have recovered from the infection will be chosen for health care – with no chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease and under the age of 60.
The Plasma Alliance
One of the other plasma-related initiatives is the Plasma Alliance. The goal of this is to pool together multiple donations of plasma in liquid form. This theory has to go through many trials before using it to treat COVID-19 patients. The CoVIg-19 Plasma Bot, which Microsoft says it plans to make accessible through the cloud, social, and search platforms, asks a series of questions such as drugs they take, allergies, and other medical conditions, to see whether a user is capable of donating plasma. When registered, users can receive details on where to donate their plasma, which takes around an hour to complete. They will continue recruiting in the United States with plans to expand into Europe.
This isn’t the first time this theory is used to treat patients. It was used to treat diphtheria in the 1980s and the 1918 flu pandemic. Plasma supplements have also been used in treating people with diseases such as SARS, measles, and chickenpox. In a trial conducted in China, the origin of coronavirus, 10 critically-ill COVID 19 patients were tested for convalescent plasma therapy and they showed immense improvement in their conditions. Such findings sparked a glimmer of hope. Scientists, however, warn that the concept of plasma therapy as an effective treatment is too early. For example, in the Covid-19 plasma therapy trials, the sample sizes are too low to arrive at definitive conclusions. And while plasma therapy remains a ray of hope, we can only know the effectiveness of the theory once further research and trials are done.