Plasma Therapy for COVID-19 Treatment dropped

The Indian Council of Medical Research recently dropped the plasma therapy from COVID-19 treatment. The decision was taken as the procedure was found to be ineffective.

Plasma Therapy

  • In the therapy, the blood component called plasma from a COVID-19 recovered patient is injected into the COVID-19 infected patient. Plasma is a rich source of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that fight against the invading virus.
  • It involves normal blood collection practices. Later plasma is extracted from the blood using blood fractionation process. Also, a machine called Aphaeresis is used to extract plasma from the donor.
  • Earlier it was used during H1N1 Influenza outbreak and Ebola outbreaks.

PLACID Trials

In September 2020, the ICMR conducted PLACID trials. According to the trials, the therapy neither reduced the number of deaths nor prevent its progression.

Other countries

China and Netherlands have also reported that Plasma Therapy is not effective for COVID-19 treatment.

Why is Plasma Therapy ineffective?

The artificial supply of antibodies makes the infection worse. This is because of a phenomenon called Antibody-Dependent Enhancement. In plasma therapy, the antibodies that are supplied artificially binds to the virus. These antibodies might then be taken up by the cell. In this way, the virus enters the human cells in spite of the fact that the patient is treated for COVID-19.

On the other hand, during vaccination the immune system produces its own antibodies. Thus, vaccination provides lifelong immunity.

Also, another major drawback is that these artificially injected antibodies stay only for three to four days in the patient’s body.

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