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Understanding Plasma Therapy

Have two negative tests to SARS-CoV-2 at an interval of 24 hours on nasal swabs

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plasma therapy for COVID-19

As the wait for the Covid-19 vaccine continues, the battle rages on. Scores of people have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus, many have succumbed, and many more have recovered from the infection as well.

For those patients who successfully overcome the virus, social media is inundated with requests that they donate their plasma for Convalescent Plasma Therapy – a treatment considered to be beneficial to patients who have tested positive.

‘Plasma’ is the liquid component in the blood that carries antibodies, hormones and various nutrients across the body. Convalescent Plasma is the plasma collected from people who were infected and have made a complete recovery; these people develop antibodies which are of vital importance. Antibodies are proteins used by the body to fight off infections and thus provide immunity to those who have beaten Covid-19. The plasma of these patients is transfused into the blood of patients are fighting Covid-19.

The therapy may be specifically beneficial to those who are extremely sick and haven’t responded to other treatments – often developing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which may require ventilator support, informs Dr Farah Ingale.

“While there isn’t sufficient data to back its efficacy, Convalescent Plasma Therapy is reported to help patients who are at higher risk, such as those with comorbidities like heart disease or Diabetes, or those who have weakened immune systems,” stated Dr Ingale, who is Director-Internal Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi, tells IANSlife.

What are the functions of blood plasma?

Antibodies once bound to the virus, neutralise it The antibodies activate the pathways and help prevent further damage to cells Reduces the overall viral load

Plasma transfused from at least two donors provides diverse antibodies, thus delivering greater protection to the immune system

How can you become a plasma donor?

A donor must wait up to 14-28 days after full recovery before being approved to donate, the person must: Not have fever

Not have any respiratory difficulties

Have normal oxygen levels i.e. between 95 percent and 100 percent Have overall good health

At the time of infection, a valid and official diagnostic test must be done to confirm SARS-CoV Undergo standard procedure to rule out HIV, Hepatitis B & C virus, etc.

Have two negative tests to SARS-CoV-2 at an interval of 24 hours on nasal swabs

How is plasma collected?

Blood Plasma is collected through a procedure called Plasmapheresis which usually takes around 45minutes During this procedure, blood is drawn and the plasma is separated; the blood cells and platelets are then returned to the donor It can also be drawn from whole blood

Plasma is rather swiftly replenished in the body. The general volume of plasma to be collected is between 300ml to 600ml Once the plasma is extracted, it is frozen at -18O C or colder within 24 hours of extraction. It can be stored for up to 12 months from the date of extraction

Are repeat plasma donations done?

If a donor may wish to donate once again, if done previously by the Plasmapheresis method – he/ she should wait for about seven days If whole blood was donated, the ideal wait time is around eight weeks before the next donation It is important to note that the treatment is at an experimental stage and is not yet proven to be fully effective for Covid-19, the doctor concludes.

Disaster

India’s Covid-19 testing rate lower than other nations, says WHO Chief Scientist

The Chief Scientist of WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, in an interactive session through video conference said,as of now about 28 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are under clinical trial, of which five are entering Phase-II and over 150 candidates are in pre-clinical trials across the globe.

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Soumya Swaminathan

Noting that lockdown was a temporary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, a senior official of the World Health Organisation on Tuesday said India has a low testing rate when compared to some of the countries that are successfully trying to curb it.

The Chief Scientist of WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, in an interactive session through video conference said,as of now about 28 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are under clinical trial, of which five are entering Phase-II and over 150 candidates are in pre-clinical trials across the globe.

“India as a whole, the testing rates are much lower compared to some of the countries, who have done well like Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan.

Even the United States is testing a huge number of people. So we need to have some benchmark and every public health department needs to have benchmarks on what is the rate of testing per lakh or per million, what is the test positivity rate,” she said.

Without adequate number of tests, fighting the virus is like “fighting fire blindfolded,” she pointed out.

According to Swaminathan, the number of tests being conducted is not adequate if the Covid-19 test positivity rate is above five per cent.

Governments need to constantly monitor the availability of beds, quarantine facilities, ICUs and oxygen supplies in district hospitals.

“So there is a set of 8 to 10 indicators that the government needs to keep a close watch on. And you can ramp up or ramp down based on what you are seeing on the ground,” she said.

Observing that the scientists’ community was still studying the body’s immune response to coronavirus and the next 12 months were crucial to put in place the public health and social measures, she said the virus has spread to every country in the world and “established community transmission”.

“We know that lockdowns are temporary measures or a temporary measure which reduces the spread because it prevents people from getting closer together and the idea of the lockdown is to buy time for the government to put in place the system needed to tackle the virus,” the WHO official said.

On the ongoing vaccine trials, she said the WHO has issued guidelines on it and if the efficacy rate of the vaccine is 70 percent, then it is considered to be a good one.

On the COVAX facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, Swaminathan said by the end of 2021 it is aimed to deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO prequalification.

All the 194 member countries of the WHO need to come together and take a decision on the way they want to proceed for the equitable and fair distribution of vaccine (once successfully comes out) and other products that are being developed for Covid-19, she opined.

Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, which is into developing Covaxin, a vaccine candidate for Covid-19,said the Centre needs to decetralise some of the regulating authorities such as Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO for faster approvals.

Telangana Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao acted as a moderator for the session titled The Vaccine Race- Balancing Science and Urgency.

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PGI-Chandigarh among 17 trial sites for Oxford vaccine Covishield

The permission was granted after the Serum institute satisfied certain requirements sought by the Drug Controller in the design of the proposal.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

Chandigarh, Aug 4 : The PGI Hospital here is among the 17 trial sites in India for conducting the second and third phases of human clinical trials of Covishield, the potential vaccine developed by Oxford University, its director said on Tuesday.

The trials would involve administration of the vaccine to 1,600 healthy adults across 17 sites.

Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Director Jagat Ram said, “It’s an honour to be entrusted with this vital responsibility of being one of the sites for phase two and three trials on Covishield vaccine.

“The results of phase one trials in the UK have been encouraging and did not present any serious adverse side effects. Phase two and three trials will be done on a larger human population to see its efficacy and requisite protection against COVID-19 in humans.”

Further detailing, the Director added, “As the results of the trials will have far reaching impact, we will strengthen our capacities, wherever required, to come out with tangible outcomes.

“A core group will be constituted to work out the modalities and comprehensive plan along with timelines to meet the desired expectations of Drugs Controller General of India and contribute towards containing the pandemic to the best of our abilities.”

Earlier, a committee of experts on COVID-19 under Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) had recommended the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to grant approval to the Serum Institute of India (SII) for conducting the Phase two and three trials.

The permission was granted after the Serum institute satisfied certain requirements sought by the Drug Controller in the design of the proposal.

In addition to PGIMER Chandigarh, the other sites for trials include AIIMS in Delhi, ABJ Medical College in Pune, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) in Patna, AIIMS in Jodhpur, Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur, Andhra Medical College in Visakhapatnam and JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in Mysuru.

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Disaster

COVID-19 pandemic “once in a century”, but still “in our hands”: WHO

“I’m not saying there is no solution now. Whatever happens in the next few months or years, I also believe that it’s in our hands,” he said.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

Geneva, Aug 4 : The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “a once-in-a-century health crisis,” but it is still “in our hands.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference on Monday that the world has never seen anything like this pandemic for decades, and its effects might last for decades more, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Since we started probably recording, this is the first ever coronavirus-caused pandemic which has two dangerous combinations: it moves fast, and at the same time it’s a killer,” the WHO chief explained.

However, he noted, although the crisis is very severe, there are still solutions and hopes.

“I’m not saying there is no solution now. Whatever happens in the next few months or years, I also believe that it’s in our hands,” he said.

“Since the outbreak started, many countries have shown that it can be controlled, or serious transmission can be suppressed,” Tedros said, adding that he has mentioned many such countries in the past, including Spain, Italy, China and South Korea.

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