Written by — Tanushree Varadarajan
With COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the country, the discovery of a vaccine is the only means out of the pandemic. While the vaccine invention may take some time, doctors and healthcare professionals have explored convalescent plasma therapy as a preventive measure to fight the novel coronavirus. The therapy aims at using antibodies from the blood of a recovered COVID-19 patient to treat those critically infected by the virus. People who’ve recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies — proteins the body uses to fight the infection. The fluid in blood from people who’ve recovered is called convalescent plasma which is the liquid yellow portion of the blood.
Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can be given to people with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus. It also might help keep people who are moderately ill from aggravating their symptoms and build immunity. The therapy aims at using antibodies from the blood of a recovered COVID-19 patient to treat those critically infected by the virus. After a small trial at Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital showed positive results in the treatment, Delhi’s first plasma bank to help treat novel coronavirus started functioning early this month.
Plasma donation is proving to be an effective solution in treating patients for COVID-19, however, the awareness level in India is considerably low. Recently, a 19-year old medical student in Delhi, Baqar Riyaz donated plasma as he wanted to contribute to humanity and save people’s lives. He believes that donating plasma will help people with low immunity fight COVID-19 and help them fight the virus effectively. Baqar’s desire to contribute to this effort also stems from the fact that he lost his own father to the pandemic.
The process of plasma donation is quite simple, according to Baqar. He further adds that most people are not aware of terms like convalescent plasma or antibodies. There is a need to create awareness and educate people about antibodies and plasma therapy so as to lead them towards donation. Baqar’s willingness to donate also stems from the fact that he lost his own father due to Covid-19. There is a need for more people like Baqar who understand the importance and use of plasma in the treatment of COVID-19.
At ACT Grants, we are trying to create awareness towards plasma donation for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The government has announced an incentive of INR 5,000 to those patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and are willing to donate plasma. However, only three people have come forward to donate plasma since the launch of plasma therapy in Bengaluru. Awareness and importance of plasma donation should be spread across the country to get people to donate plasma in time of need. Spreading awareness for plasma therapy is the need of the hour and doing so will inch us closer towards fighting the pandemic.
We need to thank brave hearts like Baqar for being a source of inspiration to many people and Mr. Mohit Bhatnagar & Dr. Shuchin for creating awareness and encouraging others to come forward and donate plasma in these times of need and also Tanushree Varadarajan for this insightful piece on the topic.