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Delhi: Demand for plasma increases amid Covid case spike but donations low

A total of 37,125 cases have been recorded in March alone, and the uptick continued into the first four days of April. The city on Sunday recorded 4,033 new cases from 86,899— a positivity rate of 4.64% — and 21 deaths.

Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi |
April 5, 2021 3:02:25 am
A total of 37,125 cases have been recorded in March. (Photo: Amit Mehra)

A sudden spike in the daily number of Covid cases in Delhi over the last one month has led to an increased demand for plasma, with several families queueing up at plasma banks even as donations have dipped. Plasma banks, however, have said they have enough plasma stored at the moment.

A total of 37,125 cases have been recorded in March alone, and the uptick continued into the first four days of April. The city on Sunday recorded 4,033 new cases from 86,899— a positivity rate of 4.64% — and 21 deaths.

According to hospitals and plasma banks in the city, there has been an increase in the daily need for plasma across centres. While only 1-2 people were coming in February, March saw around 10 patients a day in need of plasma.

Dr SK Sarin, head of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, which houses the city’s first plasma bank, said: “Demand for plasma has certainly gone up and the number of donors are not enough. Fortunately, we have enough stored plasma of high quality; it may be close to 2,000 units. We have been wondering about the situation: that if there is any resurgence of the pandemic, we will be in trouble. We would need donors who have recovered to come and donate but we would not deny anyone in need of plasma.”

Experts say those who are infected now will recover in the next two weeks, after which they will be eligible to donate. “Plasma with antibodies can be stored for a good period of time. Till December-January, we got patients as well as donors… Given the rise in cases, we will have to ask people to come forward again,” added Dr Sarin.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March said early administration of high-titer convalescent plasma against SARS-CoV-2 to mildly infected older adults reduced the progression of Covid-19.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital, said: “The treatment protocol remains the same. A recent study in NEJM shows that plasma therapy is useful so more people are opting for it for moderate cases. If it is administered at the right time, before the cytokine storm, then it is extremely useful… Earlier, we were getting one-two requests on a daily basis, which has now increased to 8-10. At the moment, we have enough stock to meet the needs of patients.”

The Delhi government had received approval to conduct convalescent plasma therapy on a trial basis in mid-April last year. The therapy, which uses antibodies found in the blood of recovered people to treat infected patients, has been widely used in several hospitals in Delhi. The city was also the first in the country to set up a plasma bank, along the lines of a blood bank.

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