“Final permission should be granted on Monday, and we should have the bank operational within a fortnight,” said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani. He said the decision to help patients at private hospitals was taken as many private hospitals don’t have access to plasma. “Most of the Covid patient load in the city has been treated at public hospitals, and we are able to reach out to these recovered patients to donate,” he added.
A charge of Rs7,500 will be levied, mainly towards the operational cost of making the plasma component available from blood. Plasma convalescent therapy, over 100 years old, involves transfusing plasma from recovered patients to those under treatment. The antibodies in the recovered person’s plasma will help control the patient’s viral load.
“In BMC-run hospitals, we have had 99% success rate with plasma convalescent therapy as we follow a stringent screening process for donors,” said Kakani.
KEM hospital dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh said plasma is available as an “off-label” treatment. “But the state government’s clinical trial for plasma for critical patients will start soon,” he said.
ICMR’s study on plasma failed to show appreciable results, but city doctors believe it will help Covid patients progressing towards moderate or severe disease.
Dr Rahul Pandit, member of the state task-force on Covid-19, said, “Plasma as a concept is robust. It should be given early. The moment the doctor feels a patient needs antivirals such as remdesivir, plasma should be an option,” said Dr Pandit. Plasma, with antibodies, should be given when viral replication is on. Dr Shashank Joshi, dean of Indian College of Physicians and task-force member, said plasma is a research modality and of unknown efficacy. “It may work in early cases, but must be validated in a clinical trial,” Joshi said.