COVID-19 Treatment : All You Need to Know About Plasma Therapy

Plasma Therapy for COVID-19 | HealthInsta

As the need for a COVID-19 vaccine grows, most medical practitioners have recommended an old method for fighting the infectious disease. This treatment used is called plasma therapy. It is a medical process where blood is donated by recovered patients to establish antibodies that fight the infection.

Plasma is the largest part of your blood. It, makes up more than half (about 55%) of its overall content. When separated from the rest of the blood, plasma is a light yellow liquid. Plasma carries water, salts and enzymes.

The main role of plasma is to take nutrients, hormones, and proteins to the parts of the body that need it. Cells also put their waste products into the plasma. The plasma then helps remove this waste from the body. Blood plasma also carries all parts of the blood through your circulatory system.

What is Plasma Therapy ?

Plasma therapy is a medical procedure that uses the blood of a recovered patient to create antibodies on those infected individuals. Medically known as convalescent plasma therapy, this treatment uses antibodies found in the blood taken from a recovered Covid-19 patient. It is then used to treat those with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection to aid recovery.

Does Plasma Therapy Cure COVID-19 ?

Currently, it has shown positive results in Delhi and Mumbai where COVID cases are spiking high. It has also proven to improve the ability of a person to recover from the disease. However, there is more research required to prove its full efficacy in different patient types.

How does Plasma Therapy Work ?

A convalescent plasma therapy uses antibodies (a type of protein i.e produced by plasma) from patients who have completely recovered from COVID-19 infection. Here is how this procedure will fight coronavirus in your body.
  • Blood is taken from a previously infected but completely recovered patient, the plasma component of that blood is separated and that contains the antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus. This plasma is injected into an infected person’s body that will fight the virus and neutralise it from spreading.
  • Once the patient has recovered, he/she will be asked to donate their blood so that their antibodies will be used to treat other infected patients.
  • The blood sample will be checked for any existing harmful diseases such as Hepatitis B & C including HIV.
  • The recovered blood will be taken into study and a researcher will extract plasma from the blood that can be injected into an infected person.

What You Can Expect

    Firstly, a doctor will recommend a convalescent plasma treatment that is suitable for your blood type. Here’s how you need to prepare before treatment and what you must do after treatment.

    Before Treatment : Your healthcare professional will assess your health before you undergo the treatment. This procedure involves a health care member who will insert an intravenous/ IV tube into a vein on your arms.

    During Treatment : The recovered plasma from a recovered infected person will be attached to the IV tube and supplied to you in drips. It takes 2hours for the procedure to be completed.

    After Treatment : You will be monitored by your healthcare specialist and you will have to make frequent visits to the hospital for further assessment by the doctor. Depending on your overall health, your healthcare specialist will decide if you require further hospitalisation or not.

    Risk Factors

    Blood and plasma have been used to treat many other conditions, and they're usually very safe. The risk of contracting COVID-19 infection from receiving convalescent plasma therapy hasn't been tested yet. But researchers believe that the risk is very low because the plasma donor has fully recovered from the infection.
    Convalescent plasma therapy carries the risk of:
    • Allergic reactions.
    • Lung damage and difficulty breathing.
    • Transmission of infections, including HIV and hepatitis B and C.
    The risk of these infections is very low, because donated blood must meet certain requirements outlined by the FDA. Before donated blood can be used, it must be tested for safety. It then goes through a process to separate out blood cells so that all that's left is plasma with antibodies.
    Although many people experience no symptoms, others have mild to severe medical complications that lead to death in some people.

    Worldwide Use of Plasma Therapy

    Plasma therapy is not something new as we may have heard of its use over COVID-19 patients. It is not the first time that it has been recommended by doctors for treating viral infections. Here is a list of other infections that this treatment was recommended for.
    1918: It was used to treat HIN1 and influenza virus pandemic, popularly known as the Spanish flu.
    2009: It was used in the treatment of H1N1 infection in 2009.
    2014: The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the use of plasma therapy to treat Ebola patients.
    2015: It was also recommended to treat the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which is a type of coronavirus.

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