Plasma therapy a ray of hope as Covid-19 patient comes out of ventilator support
Three patients have recovered from Covid-19 and are now lined up for discharge in the next few days from the AIIMS-Patna, said its doctors.Updated: Jul 13, 2020 07:11 IST
Plasma therapy as a cure to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has kindled a ray of hope after a doctor from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur was weaned off ventilator support, besides two other patients, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna.
All the three patients have recovered from Covid-19 and are now lined up for discharge in the next few days from the AIIMS-Patna, said its doctors.
However, with clinical trials on plasma therapy still not over, doctors are reluctant to bet their money on its treatment.
“As per scientific logic, plasma therapy should work on Covid-19 patients. However, we do not know its efficacy as yet. The evidence is still anecdotal,” said Dr Ravi Kirti, additional professor and head of medicine department at AIIMS-Patna.
“The clinical trials are being done on the principle that any patient who is infected with a virus develops antibodies against it. We expect the antibody to fight the virus. Plasma therapy is collecting antibody from a person who has already recovered from the disease and transfusing it in another infected person. This is also called passive immunity,” he added.
“The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is conducting big multi-centric trials in India. We have to wait for its results. Recovery trial in the UK is simultaneously testing several modalities. The interim reports suggest that hydroxychloroquin is ineffective whereas low dose corticosteroid is helpful in saving lives in moderate and severe cases,” he added.
“Unless it is contraindicated, we are administering low molecular weight heparin (a blood thinning agent, which prevents clotting in the artery), Dexamethasome (a corticosteroid group of drug, which works as immunity suppressant) and giving oxygen therapy to all moderate and severe Covid-19 patients,” said Dr Kirti.
He said Remdesivirm Toclizumab and plasma therapy were investigational drugs, which clinicians decided on a case-to-case basis after talking to a team of doctors and informing the relatives of patients.
Dr Umesh Bhadani, professor and head of anaesthesiology who is handling the critical care unit at AIIMS, echoed Dr Kirti’s views.
“We give two kinds of ventilator support — invasive and non-invasive — as part of the execution of treatment to very serious patients. As of now, we have 12 patients on invasive ventilator support and four on non-invasive ventilator support, through a mask,” said Dr Bhadani.
“Plasma therapy has had good result, but it cannot be given to critical patients or those with multi-organ failure or in shock,” said Dr Neha Singh, blood transfusion officer who is also the principal investigator in the ICMR trial on plasma therapy at the AIIMS-Patna.
“We have tried it on a few patients, who have recovered and will be discharged from our institute soon,” she added.
Dr Devender Bhushan and Dr Neeraj Kumar, assistant professors and co-investigators in the trial, are part of the supportive team of medicine and anesthesiology department, besides senior residents and postgraduate students of the two departments under the guidance of their faculty members who provide 24x7 support at AIIMS-Patna.