Do we finally have treatment for coronavirus disease?

Convalescent Plasma Therapy is an experimental procedure for COVID-19 patients

Do we finally have treatment for coronavirus disease?

The deadly novel coronavirus has infected over 2 million people around the world. And yet there is no treatment available to cure the deadly disease. Scientists and doctors are exploring drugs, vaccines and multiple other treatments to fight COVID-19.

One such treatment is plasma therapy. A 49-year-old-male, the first coronavirus patient who was administered plasma therapy in the Max Hospital, Saket, has shown positive results. The patient is now off ventilator support, the hospital said on Monday.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recently allowed states to start clinical trails of plasma therapy. Nearly 100 institutes have shown interest to study how safe and efficient plasma therapy is in treating COVID-19. Several states like Kerala, Gujarat and Punjab have already started to use plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients.

What is a Plasma Therapy?

Convalescent Plasma Therapy is an experimental procedure for COVID-19 patients. In this treatment, plasma from a COVID-19 patient who has recovered from the disease, is transfused into a coronavirus patient who is in critical condition.

How it works:

The idea behind this therapy is that immunity can be transferred from a healthy person to a sick patient using convalescent plasma. This therapy uses antibodies from the blood of a recovered coronavirus patient to treat another critical patient. The recovered COVID-19 patient's blood develops antibodies to battle against COVID-19. Once the blood of the first patient is infused to the second patient, those antibodies will start fighting against coronavirus in the second person.

How do you donate plasma?

The process for donating plasma is similar to donating blood and takes about an hour, according to Houston Methodist. Plasma donors are hooked up to a small device that removes plasma while simultaneously returning red blood cells to their bodies. Unlike regular blood donation in which donors have to wait for red blood cells to replenish between donations, plasma can be donated more frequently, as often as twice a week.

The plasma drawn from one recovered person can help two people.

History of plasma therapy:

Discovered by German physiologist Emil von Behring, plasma therapy was first used in 1890. In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended the plasma therapy to treat Ebola virus disease. The plasma therapy was also used during Spanish flu pandemic. During the H1N1 infection of 2009, doctors used plasma therapy to treat patients.

Plasma Therapy to treat COVID-19 cases:

China, where coronavirus outbreak first emerged, had used this treatment to treat critical COVID-19 patients. Two trials of plasma therapy was conducted on 15 coronavirus patients and they showed improvement. At this moment, the ICMR does not recommend this as a treatment option outside of clinical trials.

Several countries around the world including United Kingdom and United States have also started plasma therapy trials.