The entire world is fighting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and nations are looking for effective ways to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the disease.
Now, India is planning to use a very old procedure called convalescent plasma therapy to save the lives of infected patients.
The clinical trial of the treatment has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) hoping that the method will prove to be a safe and effective way to treat critical causes of the novel coronavirus.
No COVID-19 vaccine yet
Ever since the beginning of the novel coronavirus spread, which started in Wuhan (China), scientists have been working on understanding the contagion and coming up with antiviral treatments and potential vaccines.
Unfortunately, the progress has not been as fast as the speed of the coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic is resulting in thousands of deaths on a daily basis.
Plasma therapy seems promising
Plasma therapy involves siphoning blood from recovered patients and re-infusing it into those who are sick. This will help the latter get better faster.
Healthcare workers are hoping to use plasma therapy for treating COVID-19 positive patients until a vaccine or drug is clinically approved and is ready for mass-production.
Leveraging antibodies for generating an immune response
The theory behind this treatment is that the antibodies generated within a person who has recovered from the disease can trigger an immune response in the body of a seriously ill patient.
Antibodies are produced by the immune system automatically. These are then infused in blood plasma to combat viruses and protect against re-infection.
More about the treatment
Plasma therapy has existed for more than a century and was first used in the 1890s to treat patients with diphtheria. It has been employed for the treatment of patients suffering from measles, Ebola, chickenpox, and Spanish flu.
What do studies say?
Right now, it cannot be said how reliable this procedure may prove to be for treating novel coronavirus.
As per the preliminary studies conducted in China, plasma therapy may prove to be effective in treating moderately and critically sick patients.
The controlled clinical trials approved by ICMR may help researchers determine the effectiveness, safety, and speed of this method of treatment.
Other than efficiency and safety, it must also be determined whether a patient would require a specific batch of blood plasma in order to recover quickly.
Every patient who recovers generates a mix of antibodies. The antibodies slightly differ in every person who has recovered. This means varying treatments for every patient.
Can this treatment be used for everyone?
The outcome of clinical trials on select patients will decide what the official use of this method will be like.
If the therapy works efficiently without side effects, it may be used on a larger scale in India.