The use of convalescent plasma therapy in coronavirus-infected patients in Uttarakhand hospitals has thrown up different responses after almost two months of starting the process.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has allowed convalescent plasma to be used for moderately ill Covid-19 patients.
Convalescent plasma therapy involves extraction of plasma from the blood of Covid-19 patients four weeks after they have been cured of their viral infection. The extracted plasma is injected into Covid-19 patients. The antibody that develops in a recovered patient helps other Covid-19 patients to fight the virus.
Dr Shashi Upreti, in-charge for plasma therapy and blood bank at Government Doon Medical College Hospital said that since plasma therapy treatment started in the hospital around August 1, around 1200 Covid-19 positive patients have recovered, but very few patients have come forward to donate plasma.
“Since the treatment started, we have called 1200 patients of which only 25 patients agreed to donate. When these 25 were screened, only eight patients tested positive for antibodies (enough antibodies for donating plasma) and seven have donated so far. But this is still very low as these are only the patients who have been discharged from our hospital. We would get more people, if antibody screening is done in containment zones as more people would test positive there and would have developed antibodies,” said Dr Upreti.
In Nainital district’s Susheela Tiwari Hospital, the main referral hospital of Kumaon, which has also been conducting plasma therapy treatment, the response has been better.
Dr Saloni Upadhyay, in-charge of blood bank at Susheela Tiwari Hospital, said that around 170 recovered Covid-19 patients were screened of which approximately 150 tested positive for antibodies.
“We had screened around 170 patients of which around 150 tested positive for antibodies and around 20 people did not have enough antibodies. All these 150 people have donated plasma at Susheela Tiwari Hospital,” said Dr Upadhyay.
In Nainital district, 89 patients have recovered so far through plasma therapy treatment, informed the district administration.
Savin Bansal, district magistrate of Nainital, said that after getting cured people are being made aware and encouraged to donate plasma.
“A Google spreadsheet Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping has been prepared by which recovered patients are being identified region-wise and ward-wise, after which they are being counselled and encouraged to donate plasma,” said Bansal.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, the third hospital following plasma therapy treatment in the state said that they are getting a good response but not all recovered patients have a sufficient amount of antibodies needed for plasma donation.
Dr Geeta Negi, in-charge of plasma bank at AIIMS in Rishikesh, said that approximately 60 people have donated plasma through which 53 people have been treated so far.
“We take plasma from recovered patients only after testing for antibodies. These have been taken from patients who recovered at the hospital, or walk-in patients, then sometimes we get calls from people willing to donate plasma; so the number of people who have been screened is scattered, but the response has been good. We have rather had to turn down people as they did not have enough antibodies,” said Negi.
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