Coronavirus Treatment: Plasma Therapy of Critical COVID-19 Patients

India is expected to soon begin the clinical trails of plasma therapy as a potential treatment for severe COVID-19 cases. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved it on 10 April.

The number of people getting infected by the deadly novel coronavirus in India has been increasing with every passing day. And to tackle this pandemic, the country is getting ready for its first clinical trial of the Plasma Treatment, which will be used to potentially treat and cure critical COVID-19 patients. This report comes in after the official announcement of the same by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s apex body in this particular field. 

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In a recent press conference held by the Health Ministry, the Director of the Indian Institute of Epidemiology, Manoj Murhekar, has stated that the ICMR is currently working to finalise the protocol for the official clinical trial of the Plasma Treatment, which will most likely begin after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gives it the final approval. 

If approved, the treatment will be conducted on those patients who are on ventilators and under the clinical trial mode. Post that, the treatment will be recommended for all patients. This comes in after the treatment was found to have had successful results in other countries which conducted limited clinical trials of the same. In India, Kerala is the first state to have received the approval from ICMR to begin this trial.  

WHAT IS PLASMA TREATMENT?

Plasma Treatment, also known as Convalescent Plasma Therapy, has also undergone a few clinical trials in China as well as in the United States of America. Furthermore, these trials show that the treatment has worked on the respiratory diseases such as MERS and SARS. 

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The Plasma Treatment involves injecting COVID-19 patients with the plasma. This plasma will be taken from people who have already recovered from the infection. This is because their bodies have already generated the antibodies which are required to fight and tackle the novel coronavirus. 

The Plasma Treatment is a very important development taken in this regard, especially since there is no tried and tested drug or vaccine available to fight the virus as of now. 

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HOW DOES THE TREATMENT WORK?

Convalescent Plasma Therapy treatment works on the basic principle that the antibodies of a person who has recovered from the virus can help a sick person to recover as well. These antibodies are present in the recovered person’s plasma, which is the yellowish liquid part of the blood. 

This means that people who had earlier tested positive for coronavirus, and have since recovered, in addition to showing no signs of the infection for at least two to three weeks, will be the ones selected as donors of the plasma. 

PREVIOUS SUCCESSES OF THE PLASMA TREATMENT

Plasma Treatment has previously been successful in tackling other epidemics, including the SARS, H1N1 as well as MERS. It has also been used to treat cases of mumps and measles in the past. The early trials of the treatment for COVID-19, especially in the US and China have given encouraging results too. In one such trial, 10 patients from Wuhan, who were all critically ill, were transfused with one dose of the convalescent plasma from a donor. They eventually showed improvement in the clinical symptoms within three days. 

Furthermore, the levels of Coronavirus in their blood disappeared completely in seven to ten days, with no side effects whatsoever. Researchers of the treatment consider the Plasma Therapy a “promising solution” for COVID-19 patients. 

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