Focus on Plasma Therapy to Tackle Covid-19 Crisis in Maharashtra

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Tablighi Jamaat people donate blood plasma to other corona patients in New Delhi. — File photo

The state government, Mumbai’s civic body, the police force and even private NGOs are increasingly focusing on encouraging patients having recovered from Covid-19 to donate plasma

Ashok Kumar | Clarion India

MUMBAI – With Maharashtra continuing to top the Covid-19 chart in India – the state accounts for nearly 16,000 deaths and more than 4.5 lakh confirmed cases so far – there is a huge sense of urgency about the need to tackle this crisis.

The state government, the Mumbai municipal corporation, the police force and even private organisations are now increasingly banking on Plasma therapy as a means to tackle the crisis.

The government is planning to start clinical trials using convalescent plasma therapy for nearly 500 severely ailing patients in over a score of medical colleges. Dubbed as one of the world’s largest trial-cum-treatment project, ‘the Platina trial’ by Maharashtra’s medical education department will see patients who have recovered from Covid-19 donating plasma, to be given to critical patients.

And to encourage people who were infected with Covid-19 to donate plasma, the government will pay each of the donor Rs2,000 for giving their blood sample.

Mumbai police has also launched its plasma donation drive, encouraging officers and men who have recovered from Covid-19 infection to donate plasma at the state-owned JJ hospital. The plasma that is collected by the hospital is administered to Covid patients under the therapy.

Scores of policemen from Dharavi and other nearby police stations are willing to donate their blood samples to a plasma bank

The BMC, the city’s municipal corporation is also actively engaged in collecting plasma from fully-recovered Covid patients. The civic body organised a plasma screening camp in Dharavi a few days ago, claimed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Nearly 200 residents from the largest slum colony in Asia attended a weeklong screening camp held by the BMC. Officials screen the potential donors who have recovered from Covid, checking whether they have other infectious diseases, and then take about 500 ml of plasma, which is adequate for two patients.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also conducted a PLACID (Phase II, randomised controlled) trial involving more than 50 institutions; blood transfusion from recovered Covid-19 patients was found to be effective.

NGOs are also getting involved in plasma trials. The Maharashtra unit of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), for instance, launched a three-day ‘Donate Plasma, Defeat Corona campaign’ on Tuesday.

Those cured of Covid-19 will voluntarily donate their plasma. “In our country,  an antibody-rich plasma is required to treat Covid-19 patients,” says Mazhar Farooq, secretary, social service department, JIH. “Although lakhs of our countrymen have been infected by this disease, the good part is that many thousands have also been cured.

According to him, Islam places great importance on helping the needy. “God expects those privileged amongst us to help and aid the deprived sections of our society. These privileged ones include those whom God has cured of this disease.”

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