The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to its knees and the medical fraternity has been in a race to find treatment options to save millions affected by this deadly virus. One such potential treatment option is plasma therapy which can help to build immunity against the virus. Let’s learn more about it here.
What is Plasma?
Plasma is the liquid portion of blood. About 55% of our blood is plasma, while the remaining 45% consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It serves four important functions in our bodies:
- Helps in maintaining blood pressure and volume.
- Supplying critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity.
- Carrying electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to our muscles.
- Helping to maintain a proper pH balance in the body, which supports cell function.
What is Plasma Therapy?
In history, plasma therapy has been used in many other viral illnesses, including Ebola, diphtheria, 2003 SARS-CoV, the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) outbreak, and even the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. In plasma therapy, plasma from survivors is given to patients via an immediate injection of virus-fighting antibodies so they don’t have to wait for their own immune systems to kick in. Since plasma is extracted from the blood of the people who have recovered or convalesce, it is called “convalescent plasma” from a virus. This plasma can be frozen and stored for up to 18 months.
How does Convalescent Plasma Therapy work?
To understand how convalescent plasma therapy, or really how any therapy can play a role in treatment, we need to understand how COVID-19 attacks.
Inside your body, it’s a battle between the COVID-19 viral load and the body’s immune system. COVID-19 causes a decrease in the lymphocyte count, essentially destroying the armor of the immune system. With an unchecked increase in the viral count and a hobbled immune system, the lungs are the early casualty in the war.
However, when a human body is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it produces antibodies in response, which are the proteins that the body uses to fight off infections. These antibodies are contained in the plasma. However, those whose immune systems are weaker and cannot produce these antibodies find it difficult to fight off the virus.
Once an individual has recovered from the virus, the antibodies continue to remain in the plasma for a certain period, prepared to fight the virus if it returns. Antibodies of one individual, however, can be used to fight the virus for other people. Doctors hence extract convalescent plasma from a recovered individual and transfuse it into another person battling with the virus. The plasma is cryopreserved and can be used for the next year. In the case of COVID-19, it is observed that the people who get the plasma therapy seem to have a positive response and, when comparisons are made, they tend to do better than the people who do not get it.
In the absence of options, this can be used for critically ill patients that are unable to mount a response to the disease. But it must be stated that is not the cure for all.
Need of the hour
An obstacle for convalescent plasma therapy is the supply. Unlike medicines, convalescent plasma is a natural treatment that must be harvested from recovered COVID-19 patients who meet the criteria and are willing to donate. Therefore, if you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months, donate plasma to save other lives.
Regency Healthcare has been fighting the COVID-19 situation with you since the beginning. We have been providing the best treatment and care to all affected patients and continue to do so. Being the frontline workers, your health and wellness is our utmost duty.