Use of Plasma Therapy
“O+ve plasma required for a Covid patient. Contact urgently”, thousands of similar messages were doing rounds on all possible social media platforms, relatives of critically affected Covid patients running from pillar to post to arrange a few units of plasma for cost uncontrolled even till a few days back was a common scenario in India.
It’s been more than a year now since the entire world is up in arms against the Novel Corona Virus, yet the scare is still intensifying.
Desperate measures for saving lives of thousands falling prey to this life-threatening virus brought back the use of Convalescent Plasma therapy in India and across the globe. The use of plasma therapy for Covid patients began in the last few months of the year 2020 when the pandemic was in the initial phase.
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With no accurate line of treatment in the early days of Covid-19 spreading rapidly, every treatment given to the Covid patients was on an experimental basis. As the Plasma therapy gave some positive signs in the recovery of moderately ill Covid patients, this therapy became an instant hit and soon the social media platforms were flooded with plasma donating posts and messages requesting plasma for Covid treatment.
However, after detailed research for months, the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi (ICMR), has recently excluded Convalescent Plasma therapy from the Covid treatment plan.
ICMR warned that this therapy was being used irrationally and it was not advisable to use it for every Covid patient. Moreover, not all Covid recovered patients can donate plasma.
It was observed by the ICMR that plasma therapy was neither effective in the speedy recovery of Covid patients nor did it decrease the fatalities. ICMR found no significant benefit from the use of plasma in Covid treatment thus advised the doctors not to use it for Covid patients.
Though the term ‘plasma’ was back in talks recently during the pandemic, it has deep roots in the history of treating contagious diseases like polio, influenza A, pneumonia, and a few more for more than a century.
Several studies over the years affirmed the effectiveness of plasma reducing the mortality rate in epidemic diseases.
Table of Contents
What is Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT)?
This therapy is a technique where blood plasma from patients who have recovered from a contagious disease is transfused to patients who are undergoing treatment. This is done to induce immunity artificially by transferring blood from the recently recovered persons who have antibodies to fight the disease. These antibodies do not directly activate the immunity system of the patient but extend some protection until the patient’s immunity is boosted.
Emergency Usage of Plasma
With not many options available for the treatment of Covid patients in 2020, it was on August 23, 2020, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted the use of plasma therapy as a treatment for Covid-19 patients as emergency usage.
What did ICMR Find in Trails?
A trial named ‘PLACID’ was conducted by the ICMR to examine the effectiveness of CPT in Covid patients. The trial examined a total of 464 Covid patients admitted to 39 hospitals across India. This trail is said to be the largest CPT trail in the world. The trial concluded that the CPT is ineffective in reducing the Covid mortality rate. Hence, ICMR advised doctors not to use it.