COVID-19 Treatment: As the coronavirus outbreak is at its peak and the hope for getting a vaccine made in record time will still be a few months. Other alternatives are undergoing trials to achieve a breakthrough in trying other treatments to combat COVID-19 has been essential to preserve life and flatten the curve. Scientists and researchers are exploring various avenues to come up with medical treatments that can fight the novel coronavirus. One such treatment that’s in focus right now is Convalescent Plasma Therapy.
What is Convalescent Plasma Therapy:
Plasma therapy aims at using the immune power gained by a recovered person to treat a sick person. Here the patients who were previously infected with COVID-19 and have recovered the ordeal can volunteer to donate their blood, which now has antibodies. These antibodies are then introduced into those who are undergoing treatment.
Convalescent plasma therapy comes with its own set of risks. If it works, it would be a groundbreaking moment and become one of the potential treatments to treat similar illnesses. Developing an antidote is of prime importance in the exploration of various medical treatments. Also, there is a need to contemplate which one will be quickly admissible as well as feasible enough to control the novel coronavirus infection.
Though a protocol has to be in place to carry out trials for this therapy, which was experimentally utilized in the past, it could bring hope to those thousands of infected people.
How Does Plasma Therapy Work?
The antibodies recovered from a person who has been cured of COVID-19 are used in this plasma therapy. They will be using it
- to treat patients who have been critically affected by the novel coronavirus.
- for the healthcare workers who are close to infected patients for long hours.
- for other high-risk contacts as well.
The blood from the recovered patient contains antibodies that are strong enough to combat the virus, which is useful for the people battling the virus, and they are not able to do it on their own.
Once this plasma is injected into the affected person, they will be ready to fight the virus better. And targeting the novel coronavirus will be an easier process.
It has to be noted that this therapy comes under passive immunization and supposedly a preventive measure and not a full-fledged treatment that the patient may get for the disease. Since the antibodies are a natural response to fight back the virus and made explicitly by the body to fight the pathogen, they seem increasingly effective in combating the virus.
This blood is useful to treat others who are suffering from a similar malady. However, it is first checked for other infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and C.
The extraction process is safe, and the recovered patient will not be at any risk. Only a little blood will be taken, and then the plasma from it will be extracted. It usually is the liquid part of the blood containing those antibodies which are useful for this treatment & are ingested into the body of the patient. It has to be noted that a sufficient amount of antibodies have to be injected into the patient or the susceptible persons to get some result.
The antibody will circulate throughout the body and reach the tissues and help fight the virus in the infected patients and replicate the antibodies that have been ingested into the body. These will help to provide the necessary protection against the infection. The amount of the antibodies and the composition will offer protection for a certain period, usually for some weeks or months.
The Possible Risks Involved:
1. Transfer of Blood Substance: As the blood transfusion takes place, there are risks that an inadvertent infection might get transferred to the patient.
2. Enhancement of infection: The therapy might fail for some patients and can result in an enhanced form of the infection.
3. Effect on immune system: The antibody administration may end up suppressing the body’s natural immune response, leaving a Covid-19 patient vulnerable to subsequent re-infection.
Not For The First Time:
This is not the first time convalescent plasma therapy is being considered as a treatment for viral infections.
1. In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended the use of convalescent plasma therapy to treat patients with the antibody-rich plasma of those who had recovered from the Ebola virus disease.
2. For the treatment of people infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which is also caused by a coronavirus, a protocol for use of convalescent plasma was established in 2015.
3. During the 1918 H1N1 influenza virus (Spanish flu) pandemic, the therapy was used experimentally.
4. The plasma therapy was used as a treatment during the H1N1 infection of 2009.
Plasma therapy has been used for other respiratory syndromes as well as other viral infections albeit in experimentally. These studies have sparked a ray of hope. However, researchers caution that it’s too early to think of plasma therapy as an effective treatment as it is not a full-proof cure for COVID-19.
So while plasma therapy remains a ray of hope, we will only know the treatment’s efficacy once more studies and trials are conducted.
Q1. What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?
Sol. Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.
Q2. Is the coronavirus disease more severe than the flu?
While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.
Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.
Q3. Are masks effective against the coronavirus disease?
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.