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Plasma therapy a viable option for fighting COVID-19?

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As the coronavirus outbreak is at its peak and the hope for getting a vaccine made in record time will still be a few months. Other alternatives are undergoing trials to achieve a breakthrough in trying other treatments to combat COVID-19 has been essential to preserve life and flatten the curve. Several countries are working day in and day out to make the plasma therapy trials happen. Here the patients who were previously infected with COVID-19 and have recovered the ordeal can volunteer to donate their blood, which now has antibodies.

These antibodies are then introduced into those who are undergoing treatment.

Convalescent plasma therapy comes with its own set of risks. If it works, it would be a ground-breaking moment and become one of the potential treatments to treat similar illnesses. Developing an antidote is of prime importance in the exploration of various medical treatments. Also, there is a need to contemplate which one will be quickly admissible as well as feasible enough to control the novel coronavirus infection.

Though a protocol has to be in place to carry out trials for this therapy, which was experimentally utilized in the past, it could bring hope to those thousands of infected people.

How does plasma therapy work?

The antibodies recovered from a person who has been cured of COVID-19 are used in this plasma therapy. They will be using it 

  • to treat patients who have been critically affected by the novel coronavirus
  • The healthcare workers who are close to infected patients for long hours
  • Families of the infected patients
  • Other high-risk contacts as well

The blood from the recovered patient now contains antibodies that are strong enough to combat the virus, which is useful for the people battling the virus, and they are not able to do it on their own. Once this plasma injected into the affected person, they will be ready to fight the virus better.

And targeting the novel coronavirus will be an easier process.

Getting the recovered patients to volunteer to donate their blood is a task. And many of them don’t want to be near a hospital again after those excruciating days spend to recover. Some patients are apprehensive about trying out this therapy as it is not a fool proof plan for a cure. The doctor has to tell the risks involved in the procedure as per protocols, and a lot of the people may back out.

Why it’s not a treatment plan for COVID-19

It has to be noted that this therapy comes under passive immunization and supposedly a preventive measure and not a full-fledged treatment that the patient may get for the disease. Since the antibodies are a natural response to fight back the virus and made explicitly by the body to fight the pathogen, they seem increasingly effective in combating the virus. This blood is useful to treat others who are suffering from a similar malady.

However, it is first checked for other infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and C.

The extraction process is safe, and the recovered patient will not be at any risk. Only a little blood will be taken, and then the plasma from it will be extracted. It usually is the liquid part of the blood contains those antibodies which are useful for this treatment are ingested into the body of the patient. It has to be noted that a sufficient amount of antibodies have to be injected into the patient or the susceptible persons to get some result.

The antibody will circulate throughout the body and reach the tissues and help fight the virus in the infected patients and replicate the antibodies that have been ingested into the body. These will help to provide the necessary protection against the infection. The amount of the antibodies and the composition will offer protection for a certain period, usually for some weeks or months.

The possible risks involved

  • An inadvertent infection can be passed on from the donor to the already COVID-19 infected person
  • The therapy may not work for all and perhaps increase the infection in the person 
  • It can also result in suppressing the immune system of the infected person and can result in getting re-infected as well.

Plasma therapy has been used for other respiratory syndromes as well as other viral infections, albeit in experimentally, but it is not a full-proof cure for COVID-19.

 

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