Convalescent plasma therapy had earlier proved useful in combatting the SARS and MERS outbreaks. Clinical trials of plasma therapy started in Delhi and Maharashtra in April. India’s first plasma therapy success was reported in Delhi when a 49-year-old man who received treatment for coronavirus was taken off ventilator support.
In the absence of a vaccine or drugs of proven effectiveness against the novel coronavirus, convalescent plasma therapy has emerged as a prominent treatment method. Maharashtra continues to remain the worst affected state in the country, followed by city-state Delhi. Both these states have thus turned to plasma therapy to fight the virus.
In a media briefing, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his government would launch a plasma bank and urged people to donate plasma to save lives of COVID-19 patients.
“I request all those (who have recovered from coronavirus) that you rarely get to save lives. I request you to please come forward and donate. This is the true service of God”, said Kejriwal.
The plasma bank, which will be at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in South Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, will serve the purpose of coordination between plasma donors and recipients. Kejriwal said that the state government has, so far, conducted clinical trials of plasma therapy on 29 coronavirus patients and that the result was encouraging.
Earlier this week, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thakeray launched Project Platina, touted to be the world’s largest plasma therapy trial for the treatment of coronavirus patients with severe symptoms. The project aims to boost the chances of survival of serious COVID-19 patients by providing free plasma therapy at 21 government-run centers in Maharashtra, including four in Mumbai. As per reports, the project is being launched in 13 centers initially to supply plasma to 500 patients.
“The trial will help formulate definite treatment guidelines for the entire country in managing serious COVID-19 patients and thus be a milestone in turning a page in the pandemic”, the state government said in a press statement.
According to the government, the state also intends to take this study further and isolate monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19 from this plasma and study its structure and possibly produce it in an artificial form. Thakeray added that the trial would give robust data regarding the role of convalescent plasma in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Both the governments have launched helplines for queries related to the donation of plasma. The Maharashtra government has even launched an online portal for donors where they can register themselves to donate plasma.
Convalescent plasma therapy had earlier proved useful in combatting the SARS and MERS outbreaks. It involves injecting a COVID-19 patient with the convalescent sera of recovered patients. It is said that the antibodies in the blood of recovered patients can help fight the virus.
The announcement of Project Platina came after the announcement of Delhi starting a plasma bank. Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain, who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment and was also in the ICU, credited the plasma therapy for his recovery.
In a tweet, he said that he was recovering at his home and also thanked CM Arvind Kejriwal for taking a revolutionary step in starting a plasma bank. “Plasma therapy saved my life from Corona Virus and I pledge to donate my plasma as soon as medical protocols will allow,” tweeted Jain.
On Friday, Maharashtra currently has 2.30 lakh cases. Delhi saw 2,033 fresh COVID cases, taking its tally to 1,04,864 cases overall.