An insight on convalescent plasma therapy; A ray of hope amidst the corona crisis

Biotechnology & Healthcare Critical Care Diagnostics General Knowledge in Biotech & Healthcare Healthcare
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The much talked about-Convalescent Plasma Therapy, or more commonly called the Plasma Therapy, is an under experiment treatment procedure that a number of healthcare practitioners are using for patients with severe COVID-19 infection. Till date, no drug has been proven to be effective for treating COVID-19. However, it has been observed that people who have recovered from COVID-19 disease develop antibodies to the disease in their blood. Convalescent plasma is extracted from the blood of COVID-19 recovered people. Plasma is the liquid part of the blood.

It is anticipated that convalescent plasma can be transfused to people with severe COVID-19 to enhance their ability to fight the virus. Also, Convalescent plasma can help lower COVID-19 related complications and prevent COVID-19 patients from becoming severely ill.

Why is it done?

Plasma therapy can be beneficial for COVID-19 patients in whom other treatment measures have been futile. In complex cases of COVID-19, people develop acute respiratory distress syndrome-a severe disorder of the lungs due to which the affected patient requires ventilator support.

Plasma therapy is also recommended for COVID-19 patients who are at a very high risk of developing fatal consequences due to various existing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and for those who are immunocompromised or have weak immune system. Plasma therapy can help such patients from developing life threatening complications.

Convalescent plasma is also considered for corona warriors and front line health practitioners who remain in contact with or who are in the vicinity of confirm COVID-19 positive cases.

Risks

Scientists believe that plasma therapy is harmless and virtually carries no risk of contracting COVID-19 as plasma from only recovered patients is used in the process. However, plasma therapy do carry risk of:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Difficulty in breathing & lung damage
  • Transmission of infections

However, the risk of infection is considerably low as donated blood from which plasma is extracted, goes through multiple screening and is strictly evaluated as per the guidelines by the US FDA, before the transfusion process.

How is plasma therapy conducted?

Once the doctor opts to conduct plasma therapy for a seriously-ill COVID-19 patient, the doctor will order convalescent plasma that is compatible with the patient’s blood group. Through an intravenous line connected into the patient’s vein in one of the arms, the plasma is transfused into the body. The entire procedure takes around 2 hours to complete.

Since the procedure is still under investigation, the patient that has received convalescent plasma will be closely monitored after the procedure. Also, based on the health progress of the plasma recipient, the doctor shall decide if other therapies or procedure is required.

Results

Till now, it has not been established that convalescent plasma therapy is a 100% effective treatment for COVID-19. However, plasma therapy has been observed to improve one’s ability to recover from the disease.

The scientific community is still evaluating collective results from the recipients of convalescent plasma therapy to gather information about the effectiveness of the therapy and if can be approved for the treatment of COVID-19. Many people have been documented to have been benefitted from convalescent plasma therapy.

Convalescent plasma therapy is seen as a ray of hope in COVID-19 treatment.

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