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Hyderabad: After Gandhi Hospital, one of the nodal centres for COVID-19 in Telangana, is all set to conduct plasma therapy in an attempt to contain the novel coronavirus, several cured patients have come forward to donate their plasma.

Plasma therapy, which has reportedly shown promising results in China, South Korea and the United States of America, is a procedure adopted to produce COVID-19 antibodies in the body of a patient, by using the blood plasma of a cured COVID-19 patient. Following the constitution of a seven-member committee coordinating with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Gandhi Hospital has witnessed more than 15 cured COVID patients who are ready to donate their plasma.

Dr. Raja Rao, professor of General Medicine at Gandhi Hospital testifies that several people have filled the consent forms for plasma therapy in the state. “In Gandhi Hospital, more than 15 cured citizens have come forward.  These people can be called any time to donate their plasma,” the doctor said.

Ziya (name changed), a patient from Warangal who was recently discharged from Gandhi Hospital said, “If I can be of any help in this COVID-19 pandemic, I am ready to do that. Plasma donation is one way, doctors have told that this can help for faster recovery of COVID-19 patients,” he said. Earlier on April 22, some participants of the religious congregation in Delhi from Tamil Nadu have also come forward to donate their plasma.

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However, there are certain conditions for plasma donation, the doctor from Gandhi Hospital adds. “The donor should be 18 years or above of age, but not too old. The donor should have no co-morbidities (co-morbidity refers to additional illnesses co-occurring with a primary disease). Their status of immunity and the presence of anti-bodies will also be taken into consideration. If all these parameters are fulfilled, then their plasma is ready for donation,” says the doctor.

‘Lot of procedure and permissions involved to begin plasma therapy’

Convalescent plasma therapy is done after a cured COVID-19 patient donates their plasma to a critical COVID-19 patient. The cured patients will have antibodies developed against the virus in their plasma, which is termed as convalescent plasma. This method has earlier been tested on Ebola and other strains of Coronavirus like SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012 with varying levels of efficacy.

However, there are lot of procedures involved to begin this treatment, say doctors. “First, you need permission from the Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC), then from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Then, you need to register with the Clinical Trials Registry India (CTRI), and get permission from ICMR,” Dr. Raja Rao said.

In addition, Professor Rakesh Mishra, the director of Hyderabad’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), told NewsMeter, “Plasma transfer cannot be administered on a large scale. “About 200 ml of blood has to be taken from a recovered person for plasma transfer. This means one recovered patient can transfer plasma to only one patient. Also, some people recover without the help of antibodies.  Their blood also cannot be used. Hence, plasma transfer will be administered only to patients in critical conditions’, he said.

Many states, including Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, apart from Telangana have begun the process for plasma therapy in the country

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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