The current Covid-19 pandemic across the globe has the medical field scrambling for different treatment methods that will help improve the recovery rate among patients. The convalescent plasma therapy involves infusing patients with blood plasma that has been obtained from patients who have recently recovered from Covid-19. The latest studies have shown that the plasma therapy treatment method has been observed to help critically ill patients recover from the grasp of Covid-19. An added advantage of this treatment method is that there seem to be no lingering side effects as well.
Before diving into the science behind the plasma therapy procedure, let’s take a look at plasma. Plasma can be described as the liquid portion of your blood that is left behind when all the white and red blood cells, as well as the platelets, have been removed. Plasma was first used for treating diphtheria by Emil Behring in 1900. He was awarded the first Nobel prize in physiology and medicine for his use of plasma therapy.
The convalescent plasma therapy makes use of the antibodies present in the plasma of the recovered Covid-19 patient’s blood to treat people affected with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. The key behind the success of the covalent plasma therapy lies in the antibodies present in the blood of the recovered Covid-19 patient. These antibodies are produced by the body in response to the Covid-19 infection. It helps bind the virus and target it for destruction, allowing the patient to recover from the infection. Did you know the vaccinations also use antibodies to help the body prepare for infections it has not even come in contact with yet? The convalescent plasma therapy procedure ultimately involves the transfer of antibodies from a recovered Covid-19 patient to the current patient to offer immediate protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
How Does Plasma Therapy Work?
In the current fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, convalescent plasma therapy has been helping many people recover and go back to their normal lives. Let’s take a look at how this procedure helps fight coronavirus:
- The plasma content is removed from the donated blood of a previously infected and completely recovered patient. This plasma contains antibodies against the Covid-19 virus.
- The plasma is then injected into the Covid-19 infect patient’s body to help neutralize the virus and prevent it from spreading further.
- The infected patient recovers soon after the ICMR plasma therapy is started.
- After the infected patient has recovered, they are asked to donate their blood to help other infected patients.
- The donated blood is screened for diseases like Hepatitis B, C, and HIV.
- If the donated blood clears the screening test, a researcher will extract plasma from it which is used to treat the next infected patient.
How to Prepare for the Treatment?
Once the doctor gives the green signal to start you on plasma convalescent therapy, you need to be aware of a few things. Your doctor will first check your current health status and then proceed with inserting an IV tube into a vein in your arms. The recovered plasma donated by a recovered Covid-19 patient is then attached to the end of the IV tube and given to you in drips. The entire procedure takes around two hours. After the convalescent plasma therapy, the doctor will assess your situation and keep you in observation for a day or two before discharging you. In severe cases of Covid-19 infection, the doctor may decide further hospitalization until it is clear that you are out of the woods and in no danger from Covid-19.
Risks Of Plasma Therapy
Although convalescent plasma therapy has been proven to be successful among patients affected by the Covid-19 virus, there are a few underlying risks. Since the process involves blood transfusion there is always a risk of transmitting other prevalent viruses from the recovered person. This is why it is crucial to screen the donated blood before the plasma is extracted for the plasma therapy procedure. Since every human body reacts differently to different medications or treatments, there is no way of saying that plasma therapy is void of any risks. Even if the plasma therapy is successful, the patient still is at risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus again.
Previous Use Of Plasma Therapy
As mentioned earlier, Plasma therapy has been around for a while. It has been used by medical professionals to treat viral infections before the onset of Covid-19. The various plasma therapy uses has made it a viable treatment plan for treating different viral infections that would otherwise cause an epidemic. Here are a few infections that have been treated by convalescent plasma therapy:
- 1918: It was used to treat the H1N1 and the Spanish flu.
- 2009: It was used to treat H1N1 infections which spread in different parts of the world.
- 2014: WHO recommended this treatment for Ebola patients.
- 2015: It was recommended to treat MERS, another type of coronavirus.
Currently, the plasma-derived therapy procedure has been proven to be successful in several countries like India where the coronavirus has spread like wildfire. Even though the vaccination against Covid-19 is available at this point, plasma therapy is still used to help infected patients recover from the grasp of the Covid-19 virus.
Frequently Asked Questions About Plasma Therapy
Where can you avail of plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients?
Since plasma needs to be extracted from the blood of a recovered Covid-19 patient, you can avail of the treatment only at hospitals and blood centers.
Who can get the plasma therapy treatment?
You can only avail of the treatment if you have been tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and meet the criteria set by the local rules.
Who can donate plasma for plasma therapy?
You are eligible if you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 by lab tests from approved labs and then recovered completely from the virus and its symptoms have stopped. You also need to be free of any chronic or prevailing illnesses.
Where do I donate plasma for plasma therapy?
Contact your local blood bank or hospital to donate plasma to help save Covid-19 infected patients.
With the Covid-19 pandemic showing no sign of slowing down, ICMR plasma therapy has worked as a protective shield in helping several patients recover quickly and go back home. In fact, it is used as the last line of defense against this deadly virus in several parts of the world. Medical researchers are studying the collected data and gathering information about the effectiveness of this treatment method to come up with a better treatment plan against the Covid-19 virus.
The Plasma therapy success rate has helped medical professionals across the globe lower the mortality rate of the Covid pandemic. If you suspect you may have contracted Covid -19, avail of an online COVID-19 Consultation for Adult and talk to a doctor to find out what to do next. You can also avail online COVID-19 Consultations for kids if you suspect your children may have contracted the viral infection. With the rate of transmission extremely high, COVID-19 Online Consultations have helped prevent several potential outbreaks.
Although plasma therapy has a good recovery rate, it is used only in dire circumstances when all other treatment methods seem to have failed. The plasma therapy cost is also comparatively lower, making it a feasible option for several people. Governments across the globe are encouraging their citizens who have recovered completely from Covid-19 to donate plasma to help the next wave of infected patients. With this loop in place, combined with the vaccination program, hopefully, the world will be rid of the Covid0-19 virus sooner rather than later.