The Plasma Bullet: A Magic Bullet Ahead of The COVID Cure
Plasma Therapy, a treatment which has received a vote of approval in most Indian states, is being prescribed for critical patients, especially those suffering from breathing difficulties and low levels of oxygen
In a time when we're waist-deep in the combat against COVID-19, a mass-size cure and vaccine are still a long way to go. Announcements for drugs like Fabiflu and Cipremi (Cipla's version of Remdesivir), anti-viral treatments and other medications are helping us return to a version of normalcy. That's why plasma therapy, despite a 100% proof of action, is indeed a magic bullet, ahead of the full-scale cure.
Plasma Therapy, a treatment which has received a vote of approval in most Indian states, is being prescribed for critical patients, especially those suffering from breathing difficulties and low levels of oxygen.
Here's the plasma therapy essential digest, one we really, really need at a time when our COVID toll has crossed 16,000 lives.
What is Plasma Therapy?
Medically termed as convalescent plasma therapy, this treatment provides a plasma transfusion to a suffering patient, from a healthier person. In a COVID-19 case, they collect the plasma from a recovered patient, bearing antibodies against the disease and provide it to a patient struggling with it.
The magic bullet concept stems in from the fact that the transfusion, rich in IgM and IgG antibodies, provides a readymade dose of COVID resistance. A patient who is struggling against a severe COVID-19 infection would not have to wait for their bodies to develop resistance against the disease.
Remember, plasma therapy is not the first response, but one ideal for a critical situation, where immediate results can mark the difference between life and death. That's why while most medical experts would rather have a wait and watch approach with the treatment, it's available in most cities now, the latest being Jaipur and Rohtak.
What's needed for plasma therapy
Contrary to other treatments, depending on a potent cocktail of anti-viral drugs and medications, plasma therapy requires a voluntary donation of plasma from a cured patient. So, what we need to provide the treatment aggressively is donor awareness among recovered patients, blood banks and capable transfusion facilities as well as plasma separation facilities.
So, what we need, apart from a steady and robust stream of donors, is government support to set up and implement plasma transfusion and trained healthcare workers (technicians, doctors, support staff) to supervise the process.
Who can donate blood plasma
Right now, donating blood plasma is a high-level contribution, especially for those patients who've recovered from this disease. Typically, these donors should clear two COVID-19 tests, lie between 15-65 years of age. A study by the NHS has also held male donors as having the most effective plasma, with a higher concentration of antigens that women donors.
How much does this treatment cost
The most significant strain of the COVID crisis, apart from the impact on human life and health, is the financial burden that it's bringing on all of us. In light of this, the plasma therapy treatment in itself is small - the core ingredient is voluntary, and the cost of consumables would not extend beyond Rs 10,000 to Rs 12000.
However, remember that plasma infusions are advised only to critical care patients. So, they would already be bearing a substantial cost in a hospital stay and ancillary treatments.
We hope that we see a world cured of COVID-19 pretty soon. However, until that day occurs, let's try to maximise recovery through treatments like plasma therapy.