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The probable respite for Covid-19 - Plasma Therapy

As the whole world fights the novel coronavirus, scientists and researchers are working on figuring out a vaccine or a probable way to prevent the spread of the deadly Covid-19. Many countries, including India, are exploring the plasma therapy as a possible treatment for the disease. The therapy has been experimentally used in the past, and has given the world a ray of hope in the fight against the pandemic we face today.

If we try to understand Plasma Therapy in the simplest of terms, it simply means – The therapy aims at using antibodies from the blood of a recovered Covid-19 patient to treat those who are critically affected by the virus. The recovered patient’s antibodies, when ingested into someone else’s body who is undergoing treatment, will begin fighting the novel coronavirus in the second patient.

Once a patient has fully recovered, he/she can donate blood so that the antibodies can be used for treating other patients. The donated blood is first checked for the presence of any other diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B or any other critical medical history that runs in the family of the patient.

This therapy, also known as the Convalescent Plasma Therapy is almost similar to passive immunization. However, it’s a preventive measure and is at a very early stage of limited trials.

There are also some risks involved in this therapy. There may be risks of an inadvertent infection being transferred to the patient or the therapy may also result in an enhanced form of infection. However, some of the trials conducted in China have given scientists a ray of hope. We will know the therapy’s efficacy only when more such trials and studies are conducted.

Also, this is not the first time that plasma therapy has been explored and used. During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, this therapy was experimentally used. It was also used during the H1N1 infection of 2009. A protocol for the use of convalescent plasma was established in 2015 to treat people infected with MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Even during the Ebola crisis of 2014, the plasma therapy was recommended by the WHO.

Thus, we are still exploring the therapy and its possible efficacy, and let’s be hopeful and optimistic that research and trials on this therapy gives out some concrete and positive outcomes.

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