One investigational treatment being explored for COVID-19 is the use of convalescent plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
By Dr. Puneet Khanna and Dr. Divya Bansal
There is currently a pandemic of respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease caused by the virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19). At present there are is no specific therapy for COVID-19. Management is primarily based on supportive care with oxygen and certain drugs like Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Hydroxychloroquine. In severe cases who develop frank pneumonia and ARDS, mechanical ventilation or special ventilation ECMO is the mainstay of the treatment.
One investigational treatment being explored for COVID-19 is the use of convalescent plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The MoHFW in their updated Clinical management protocol has also recommended the use of Convalescent Plasma therapy as one of the investigational therapy for patients with moderate to severe symptoms and have failed first line therapy.
Plasma is a component of the blood that contains Antibodies. Convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID 19 patients is extracted from the blood of patients who have completely recovered form disease and therefore it contains antibodies specific to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
Use of convalescent plasma has been historically studied in outbreaks in many viral infections such as poliomyelitis, measles, mumps and more recently Ebola outbreak as well. It was also used in the treatment of various respiratory infections including the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 epidemic, the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, and the 2012 MERS-CoV epidemic.
Considering the lack of efficacious treatments for COVID 19 and the epidemic situation with high mortality rate, the government has approved convalescent plasma for COVID-19 for use moderate and severe COVID patient as an investigational use. The patients who meet the inclusion criteria based on clinical decision and do not have any exclusion criteria are offered this therapy. A formal consent is taken from the Patient or the relative. We need to take the blood plasma of a recovered patient and transferring it to an infected person. Plasma in blood contains antibodies and donated by recovered COVID patients it can be used to make convalescent plasma (antibodies). These antibodies provide immunity and defense against the attack the body encounter the pathogen again. The donor selection is based on certain criteria which include complete recovery at least 28 days before the donation OR complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days prior to donation and two negative real time PCR test for COVID-19 from nasopharyngeal swab, collected 24 hours apart.
It is our sincere appeal to all the patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to come forward and consider donation of PLASMA and help other patients who are sick and may benefit from this therapy.
(The authors are Dr. Puneet Khanna, HOD Pulmonology and Dr. Divya Bansal, HOD Hemato Oncology at MANIPAL HOSPITALS. Views expressed are thier own.)