1. COVID-19 | Kerala gets nod for trial of plasma therapy

  • What is convalescent plasma therapy? How does it work?

  • What is plasma and what are platelets?

  • How many patients can be treated with plasma from a donor?

  • Who can donate plasma?

  • Is it a new treatment?

 UPSC can list these Questions under

GS paper 2 (Issues related to health, education and Human Resources.)

What is the context about?

  • Convalescent plasma therapy treatment is a newly approved treatment with some history of success could offer hope for the sickest of the country’s COVID-19 patients.

Then, what is Convalescent plasma therapy?

  • It is a therapy, which takes antibodies from the blood of a person who has recovered from a virus and transfuses those antibodies into a person sick with that virus.
  • Convalescent plasma therapy involves transfusing certain components from the blood of people who have had the COVID-19 virus and recovered into people who are very sick with the virus or people who are at high risk of getting the virus.

How does it work?

  • As people fight the COVID-19 virus, they produce antibodies that attack the virus. Those antibodies, proteins that are secreted by immune cells known as B lymphocytes, are found in plasma, or the liquid part of blood that helps the blood to clot when needed and supports immunity.
  • Once a person has had the virus and recovered, that person has developed antibodies that will stay in their blood waiting to fight the same virus should it return. Those antibodies, when injected into another person with the disease, recognize the virus as something to attack.
  • In the case of the coronavirus, scientists say antibodies attack the spikes on the outside of the virus, blocking the virus from penetrating human cells.

How many patients can be treated with plasma from a donor?

One person’s donation of plasma can produce two doses of the material needed for transfusions. Scientists say that a person only needs one transfusion to get enough antibodies to fight a virus.

 

Is it a new treatment?

  • The idea of using one person’s antibodies to help another person fight a virus is not new. Reports show that as far back as the 1890s, some form of the therapy was being tried. Convalescent therapy was used to treat measles and mumps.
  • The downside of the treatment is that it is expensive and limited by the number of donors since one donation can make only two doses of the therapy.