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COVID-19 treatment: Plasma therapy

The SARS-CoV-2, also know as COVID-19 has spread at unseen speed causing more than 208,000 deaths across the globe. People are advised self-isolation in an attempt to control the spread and major events have been postponed or canceled. Health ministries and governments are attempting to flatten the curve and alleviate large-scale transmission in the community.

Scientists and researchers are coming up with various medical procedures that can fight the novel coronavirus. One such treatment that’s most talked right now is Convalescent Plasma Therapy.

Treatment by plasma therapy was successful in the trials conducted in Delhi. A 49-year-old, male patient who had tested positive for coronavirus infection on 4 April was admitted at the COVID-19 facility in East Block of Max Hospital, Saket, with moderate symptoms and a history of fever and respiratory issues. The patient was showing no signs of improvement so his family arranged for a donor for extracting plasma. After receiving the treatment, the patient showed progressive improvement in health.

The convalescent plasma therapy uses antibodies from the blood of a recovered Covid-19 patient to treat those critically affected by the virus. This therapy’s concept is simply based on the premise that the blood of a patient who has recovered from Covid-19 contains antibodies with the specific ability of fighting novel coronavirus. These antibodies are developed in a patient as part of the body’s natural immune response to a foreign pathogen or in this case, the novel coronavirus.
Once the patient has recovered, they donate their blood so that their antibodies can be used to treat other patients. The donated blood is then checked for the presence of any other disease-causing agents such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, etc. If believed safe, the blood is then taken through a process to extract ‘Plasma’, the liquid part of the blood that contains antibodies. The antibody-rich plasma, once extracted, is then ingested into the body of a patient under treatment.

According to the WHO, the experience in the past suggests that the empirical use of convalescent plasma can be a potentially useful treatment for COVID-19.

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