New Delhi: Covid-19 patients in Delhi who underwent plasma therapy have shown encouraging results and managed to recover, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences Director Dr S.K. Sarin said at a digital press conference Friday.
So far, four patients at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Narayan Hospital have shown positive results and the government is readying to try plasma therapy on another two or three patients Friday, Kejriwal said.
He added that since the central government has allowed only limited trials on seriously ill patients, the Delhi government will seek permission and conduct more trials over the next three days, and if 10 patients can be treated using the therapy, it could be a good lead.
The national capital has reported 2,376 cases of Covid-19 and 50 deaths as on Thursday night.
What is plasma therapy?
Convalescent plasma therapy involves injecting patients with plasma from people who have recovered from the infection, and whose bodies have therefore, generated the antibodies required to fight the novel coronavirus.
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This is different from plasma exchange therapy, wherein the plasma is removed from a sick patient and replaced with plasma from healthy donor.
Dr Sarin, who also heads the panel constituted by the Delhi government to fight Covid-19, said the therapy has yielded very quick results in the case of the patients admitted in Delhi. Of the four patients at LNJP Hospital, two were admitted Tuesday. These two patients, who required ventilator support, were now doing much better, and were shifted to a regular ward Friday.
“In just three days, we’ve seen an improvement,” said Kejriwal.
The condition of the other two patients is also improving, they added.
Kejriwal also referred to the case of another patient who was administered plasma at a private hospital in Delhi. “He was reportedly in a very critical situation but I am told even he is doing much better now,” the CM said.
Challenges of plasma therapy
Explaining the challenges of the therapy, Dr Sarin said more people needed to come forward to donate their plasma.
“Let me clarify that there is no risk in doing that and we will ensure you are taken good care of. We will go ahead only after we find you fit to do so,” he said, adding how he and his team were “depressed” the other day when they lost a young adult because they couldn’t get plasma.
“We searched for a day and we found a donor at 7am but the boy had passed away by 4am,” he said, exhorting those who have recovered and are sitting at home to show their “deshbhakti” and come forward for a larger cause.
“It is not blood donation but plasma donation, and in fact, it helps in stimulation of your bones eventually, so there are advantages for the donors too,” the ILBS director said.
He also clarified that contrary to perception, the therapy is not expensive.
3 stages of Covid-19
Sarin said Covid-19 infections go through three stages — virus spread, pulmonary phase and organ failure. He explained that it is crucial to administer the plasma at stage 2, where the rest of the body is operating and only the lungs have failed, else it becomes very difficult when other organs gets impacted.
However, Kejirwal added in the end: “These are only early results. We must not think we have found a cure for coronavirus. This has just given us a ray of hope.”
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