In a trial that is expected to aid the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala, the state government has been conducting plasma therapy on 25 patients at the District Hospital of Mananthavady in Wayanad. Seventy five people from Valat village in the district have donated plasma. Each of the 25 patients have received two doses as a result, while undergoing treatment for the disease at the hospital. Valat had been a COVID-19 cluster in July after a wedding function turned out to be a source of infection for many.
More than 300 cases have emerged from Valat since July. The plasma donors are people who recovered from the disease in the region. “It has been applied on people who have moderate symptoms and only on patients who satisfy certain medical conditions including oxygen saturation and based on certain lab results, following all guidelines of the government. Plasma therapy has been used in the treatment since July 22 and some of the patients were discharged from the hospital after showing some recovery,” Dr Binija Merin Joy, nodal officer of the hospital blood bank told TNM.
Oxygen saturation is a measure of the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin present in the blood, relative to the amount of hemoglobin not carrying oxygen. A certain level of oxygen needs to be there in the blood, for the body to function efficiently.
Plasma therapy refers to using the blood plasma of individuals who have recovered from the disease, who will have antibodies to the virus in their blood. By harnessing the recovery mechanism of the antibodies and introducing them into the COVID-19 patient’s bloodstream, it enables them to fight off the infection.
However it’s yet to be studied if the plasma therapy helped directly in the recovery of patients.
“The doctors who examine the patients have opined that there is clinical response, more effective on people who have moderate symptoms. We have planned a study on the patients on whom the therapy has been experimented,” Dr Merin Joy added.
The Kerala government received permission from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to begin using plasma therapy against COVID-19 in August. Plasma therapy is conducted with the patient’s consent and with the approval of the State Medical Board and institutional committee.
The trial is on patients who are above 18. In Wayanad, the district hospital is the only one with component (plasma) storage. Earlier, 32 people had donated plasma for plasma therapy in Malappuram district for treatment of patients at the Manjeri Medical College Hospital.
The first plasma bank in the state had been set up at the Manjeri Medical College where the plasma therapy first began on a mass scale. "We had experimented plasma therapy in more than 150 COVID-19 patients and the success rate, as per the study so far, is 73%. A detailed study is needed for more findings on it. The plasma donation and the plasma therapy continue in the hospital," Dr Shinas Babu, nodal officer of COVID-19, of Manjeri Medical College told TNM.