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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Delhi’s plasma bank: What’s the aim, how effective has the therapy been so far?

Delhi was among the first few states to get ICMR approval to conduct trials with plasma therapy, which is still at trial stage.

Written by Mallica Joshi , Astha Saxena | New Delhi | Updated: June 29, 2020 7:55:02 pm
express explained, delhi coronavirus, delhi coronavirus latest updates, delhi plasma banks, delhi plasma donors, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, arvind kejriwal, delhi news, indian express Ever since a few hospitals in the city got permission to administer the therapy, people have been posting messages on social media, asking those who have recovered to donate plasma. (Representational/Getty Images)

The Delhi government will set up a plasma bank within the next two days for coronavirus patients at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Monday. The chief minister said that the creation of the repository is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the entire country and appealed to recovered patients to donate their plasma.

The chief minister said the state government will issue dedicated helplines for those willing to donate plasma.

What is a plasma bank, why is it required?

Like in blood banks, where blood is extracted and stored for those who might be in need, the idea is to extract and store plasma from people who have recovered from Covid-19 and give it to someone suffering from the disease. The CM said it will become operational within two days and is likely one of its kind in the country so far.

Ever since a few hospitals in the city got permission to administer the therapy, people have been posting messages on social media, asking those who have recovered to donate plasma. The government, led by the CM, has made similar appeals.

However, many who recover remain unwilling to donate, leading to more demand than supply. Just last week, the Delhi Assembly speaker filed a police complaint alleging he was duped by a man posing as a plasma donor.

The bank is being started keeping in mind the experiences of several people who had to run pillar to post to arrange plasma for their loved ones.

At what stage is the therapy in Delhi?

Delhi was among the first few states to get ICMR approval to conduct trials with plasma therapy, which is still at trial stage.

Once a person contracts the virus, the blood produces antibodies and certain cells ‘remember’ the antigen and produce antibodies when they come in contact with the same virus again. The plasma trial is examining if the plasma containing antibodies from recovered patients is beneficial to others as well.

Doctors in Delhi hospitals have found so far that the therapy is not as effective on critical patients, but those with moderate symptoms appear to be responding well.

Have the results been encouraging?

Senior government officials tracking the trial said that in a controlled study conducted on 29 patients at Lok Nayak Hospital, administration of the therapy was found to be safe. The results, officials said, have also been shared with ICMR. While 14 patients were administered convalescent plasma (CP), the others were administered fresh frozen plasma (FFP). Clinical parameters were measured after 48 hours and 7 days.

CP is extracted from a Covid patient who has recovered, and FFP from a person who has no exposure to the particular disease — to serve as a control.

During the trial, it was found those who were given CP showed more improvement than those who were administered FFP.

What improvements were observed?

“The normal respiration rate for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute. CP was administered to those whose respiratory rate had soared to 35.36 breaths per minute. Post administering plasma, the respiratory rate improved substantially with a drop of 8.22 in the first 48 hours and a drop of 14.92 in 7 days. These results were better than the results seen in patients who were administered regular FFP,” the official said.

Improvement was also seen in oxygen saturation levels. “Normal O2 saturation rate is 95%. CP was administered on patients whose O2 Saturation level was 85% and improvement of 6.61% seen within 48 hours and 9.92% seen in 7 days. These results were better than those for FFP patients. The duration of stay in the hospital was also reduced in those given CP,” the official added.

Who can be a donor?

A healthy person between the age group of 18-60 years and with no comorbidities. Consent must be taken, and the patient should have recovered at least three weeks before donating and tested negative for Covid-19 twice.

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