Many options are being explored to treat COVID-19. These include new drugs specifically designed to target SARS-CoV-2, as well as “repurposed” drugs – that is, existing drugs designed to treat a different disease. By far the oldest treatment being tested, though, is convalescent plasma. This involves using blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and infusing it into patients who currently have the disease.
Plasma is the liquid portion of blood that remains when all red and white blood cells and platelets have been removed. It was over a hundred years ago that Email Behring was awarded the first Nobel prize for physiology and medicine for his work demonstrating that plasma could be used to treat diphtheria.
“In the absence of a vaccine to fight against the Covid-19, transfusion of Convalescent plasma is a ray of hope for persons in critical stage of infection. Hence, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) permitted many government hospitals to conduct clinical trials of plasma transfusion. In our State, too, Kurnool, Tirupati, Vijayawada and Guntur GGHs are already doing this procedure and are getting encouraging results,” disclosed BVS Kumar, Member of AP State Blood Banks Committee of Indian Red Cross Society.
Based on the successful recoveries in Covid patients, most of the State governments are encouraging plasma transfusions to combat the Covid deaths. The State government has even announced an incentive of Rs 5,000 for a plasma donor, said BVS Kumar.
Andhra Pradesh branch of Indian Red Cross Society is contemplating in a big way to support the efforts of the State government in these plasma donations. Dr A Sridhar Reddy, Chairman of Indian Red Cross Society, AP State branch, has written to all District Collectors in the State to appoint Red Cross Society as a Nodal Agency for plasma donations. Red Cross Societies in most of the districts started plasma donations, which were inaugurated by those District Collectors. The district branches of Red Cross societies will collect the list of the persons discharged from Covid hospitals after recovering from infections and maintain a Data Bank of all these people, who are the potential plasma donors.
“As per the guidelines of ICMR, 400 ml of plasma will be taken from the donors, which can be given to a patient in two instalments with a gap of 24 hours. This Convalescent plasma will accelerate the anti-bodies in the patient body and can successfully fight the virus. All recovered persons in the age group of 18 to 50 years can come forward and donate the Convalescent plasma and save other persons, who are in critical stages of infection. Fortunately, we have a very high rate of recovery and all these persons are eligible to donate plasma,” he said. In Krishna district, people who need plasma can contact the Red Cross Society office on the following phone numbers 0866- 2570082 / 2570083 and 9989893346.
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