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Amid rising Covid cases, why Delhi is seeing a shortage of plasma

Among the hundreds of messages on social media by people who require help for those who have tested positive for Covid, a large chunk comprises requests for eligible donors.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | Agra/new Delhi, New Delhi |
April 16, 2021 1:24:24 pm
India drops plasma therapy, Covid treatment, coronavirus cases, CPT, convalescent plasma therapy, Plasma therepay effctiveness, India news, India covid situation, Indian express newsThe plasma therapy involves using antibodies found in the plasma of Covid-recovered patients to cure those infected by the virus. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

As the number of Covid cases, and consequently hospital admissions, have risen in Delhi, the city has also witnessed a heavy demand for plasma from recovered patients over the past week. Plasma is being used to perform convalescent plasma therapy across hospitals in the city, but the sudden surge in cases means there is a shortage in hospitals and in the two plasma banks started by the government.

In the last week of February, the number of cases in Delhi was well under 200 per day. For plasma therapy, the donor should have recovered from Covid 21-28 days before donation and should have adequate antibodies, which are tested before taking the donation.

Among the hundreds of messages on social media by people who require help for those who have tested positive for Covid, a large chunk comprises requests for eligible donors.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also addressed the plasma shortage on Thursday. He said the efficacy of donated plasma depends on the level of antibodies present in it.

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Kejriwal said a person needs to have recovered from Covid during a specific period in the past in order for her to be eligible to donate. Plasma of a person who recovered a long time ago is unlikely to be effective. As cases had dropped after November, until the ongoing wave emerged, there were very few eligible donors available.

“Today we have cases where people have recovered very long ago or have been infected very recently. So the number of donors has dropped,” Kejriwal said.

Hospitals and plasma banks require a replacement donor if they provide plasma to the hospital for a particular patient, which is why the government, local MLAs, and general public have been making calls for those who have recovered and have adequate antibodies to come forward for donation.

The therapy involves using antibodies found in the plasma of Covid-recovered patients to cure those infected by the virus. Plasma refers to the nearly-transparent liquid left behind after RBCs, WBCs and platelets are removed.

It is a part of the Clinical Management Protocols for Covid-19 issued by the Union Health Ministry under the category of investigational therapies. The protocols say that convalescent plasma therapy may be considered for Covid-19 patients with moderate symptoms who are not showing improvements.

According to a recent AIIMS interim analysis of a randomised controlled trial of plasma therapy, the process did not show any clear mortality benefit among 30 corona patients who were part of the study.

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