COVID-19 Treatment: What is Plasma Therapy?

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As the need for a COVID vaccine grows, most medical practitioners have recommended an old method for fighting the infectious disease. This treatment used is called plasma therapy. It is a medical process where blood is donated by recovered patients to establish antibodies that fight the infection. Why is it done? How effective has this medical procedure been on COVID patients are questions that this article will shed some light on.

Plasma Therapy

What is Plasma Therapy?

Plasma therapy is a medical procedure that uses the blood of a recovered patient to create antibodies on those infected individuals. Medically known as convalescent plasma therapy, this treatment uses antibodies found in the blood taken from a recovered Covid-19 patient. It is then used to treat those with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection to aid recovery.

Does Plasma Therapy Cure COVID?

Currently, it has shown positive results in Delhi and Mumbai where COVID cases are spiking high. It has also proven to improve the ability of a person to recover from the disease. However, there is more research required to prove its full efficacy in different patient types.

How Does Plasma Therapy Work?

A convalescent plasma therapy uses antibodies (a type of protein i.e produced by plasma) from patients who have completely recovered from COVID-19 infection. Here is how this procedure will fight coronavirus in your body.

  • Blood is taken from a previously infected but completely recovered patient, the plasma component of that blood is separated and that contains the antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus. This plasma is injected into an infected person’s body that will fight the virus and neutralise it from spreading.
  • Once the patient has recovered, he/she will be asked to donate their blood so that their antibodies will be used to treat other infected patients.
  • The blood sample will be checked for any existing harmful diseases such as Hepatitis B & C including HIV.
  • The recovered blood will be taken into study and a researcher will extract plasma from the blood that can be injected into an infected person.

Also Read Allergies? Common Cold? Flu? Or COVID-19?: Symptoms and FAQs


How to Prepare for the Treatment?

Firstly, a doctor will recommend a convalescent plasma treatment that is suitable for your blood type. Here’s how you need to prepare before treatment and what you must do after treatment.

  • Before Treatment

Your healthcare professional will assess your health before you undergo the treatment. This procedure involves a health care member who will insert an intravenous/ IV tube into a vein on your arms.

  • During Treatment

The recovered plasma from a recovered infected person will be attached to the IV tube and supplied to you in drips. It takes 2hours for the procedure to be completed.

  • After Treatment

You will be monitored by your healthcare specialist and you will have to make frequent visits to the hospital for further assessment by the doctor. Depending on your overall health, your healthcare specialist will decide if you require further hospitalisation or not.

Risks of Plasma Therapy

Though this kind of treatment has proved to be effective over COVID patients, it needs to be done under proper medical supervision keeping in mind underlying risks. Here are some potential risks you need to be aware of.

  • Since this process involves blood transfusion, there could be a risk of transmitting a prevalent virus from a recovered person. Thus, a doctor must assess the recovered person’s health before opting to conduct blood transfusion.
  • Every human body reacts in different ways to a treatment or medication. This treatment can not be useful for some patients as it can result in the contraction of an infection.
  • You could be at risk of contracting the infection once again.

Also Read Coronavirus: Tips To Protect Yourself, Your Family And Community


Worldwide Use of Plasma Therapy

Plasma therapy is not something new as we may have heard of its use over COVID-19 patients. It is not the first time that it has been recommended by doctors for treating viral infections. Here is a list of other infections that this treatment was recommended for.

Interesting Facts About Plasma Therapy 
1918: It was used to treat HIN1 and influenza virus pandemic, popularly known as the Spanish flu.
2009: It was used in the treatment of H1N1 infection in 2009.
2014: The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the use of plasma therapy to treat Ebola patients.
2015: It was also recommended to treat the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which is a type of coronavirus.

FAQs

Plasma therapy has proved to be effective in India and is gaining worldwide recognition in the treatment of final stages of COVID patients. Here are some frequently asked questions that will give you an insight into how it’s done and its various other facets.

1. Where can you get plasma for a patient with COVID-19?

Since plasma is not widely available, here is how you can get it:

  • From blood centers
  • Hospitals must contact their blood suppliers

3. Can I donate plasma if I have recovered from COVID-19?

Yes, you will be eligible for plasma donation based on the following terms.

  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID by a laboratory and met its criteria.
  • You must have been fully recovered from COVID and its symptoms.
  • If you have no prevailing diseases or chronic illnesses.

4. Who to contact if I want to donate blood plasma for COVID?

Contact a blood bank or a nearby hospital that treats COVID patients. Donating plasma will save another life.

Plasma therapy has proven to be effective especially in treating COVID patients with severe infection. It has turned out to be the last shield of defence that can fight COVID. However, there is more research that is being done to understand its efficacy on COVID patients. More research shall help gather more evidence about this procedure in the times to come.

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