New Delhi: Even as efforts continue to develop a cure for coronavirus, Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director, Max Healthcare, Delhi recently performed “plasma therapy” on a COVID-19 positive patient which has given positive results. Speaking to ANI, Dr Budhiraja said that plasma therapy involves injecting patients with plasma taken from the people who have recovered from the infection and whose bodies have, therefore, generated the antibodies required to fight the virus.
“Plasma therapy is not a new treatment. It has been used earlier during various viral epidemics. It was used during the time of SARS in 2003 and even in 1980 during the time of Spanish Flu,” said Dr Budhiraja.
“ When we do not have a specific treatment for treating a disease, plasma therapy plays a role in such a situation. It is not magic but it definitely helps the patients, he added.
He said antibodies help to kill or stop the virus in the body.
So, if we take plasma from a healthy recovered COVID-19 patient (donor) and inject it into a patient who is seriously ill (recipient)…the anti-bodies transferred in the recipient’s body can reduce the load of the virus. It can help reduce the severity of the disease, he added.
Positive reports are coming from across the world and positive change is being seen in the patients treated with this therapy, he said.
We had a patient who was seriously ill and was on the ventilator. No improvement was seen in the patient’s condition for few days. Then the family members requested that they wanted the doctors to treat him with plasma therapy. The problem is that ICMR and DCA have not formally approved of it, it’s still under process, said Dr Budhiraja.
“So, in a situation where family members of a patient request for this treatment, and it has also been performed earlier in other countries with approval, it can be performed on life-saving compassionate grounds, called off-label indications,” he added.
For this the doctors have a proper consenting process and ethics committees in hospitals and after taking the permission of the internal and external members of the committee, the treatment is performed in the best interest of the patient.
I can’t say that the patients have fully recovered after the treatment but in the last few days, we have been witnessing positive response. With time, we’ll get to know the duration in which the patient recovers, said Dr Budhiraja.
The plasma samples are taken from the donor after two weeks of recovery via a machine and the entire process takes two hours, the doctor informed.
Plasma Trials To Begin In Delhi
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday (April 16) said that doctors will soon start the trial of plasma therapy to treat the coronavirus patients in the national capital. Addressing a press conference he said,
The trial of plasma enrichment technique will start in the next 3-4 days. If successful, we can save the lives of serious COVID-19 patients.
He said that the Delhi government on April 14 had sought permission from the central government for the trial and today we have been approved for the same.