For the last three-four months, Vedant Hospital in Thane (Ghodbandar Road) has been operating as COVID-19 dedicated hospital. Now, this hospital is carrying out a convalescent plasma donation drive for COVID-19 patients. This drive is to collect enough plasma to administer plasma therapy on COVID-19 patients.
Around 1,500 COVID-19 patients have recovered from COVID-19 in this hospital. Vedant Hospital‘s Dr Nivedita Patil, spokesperson for the donation drive said, “ It is a huge pool of patients we are contacting and motivating them to come ahead and donate. We are trying to appeal to patients (of other hospitals) who have recovered from COVID-19. The idea is to get plasma available to people purely as a humanitarian act.” Patil started the drive, which began over the weekend, has received pledges from 8-10 people to donate their plasma. The hospital had contacted around 20 people for the plasma donation.
She added that these eight might be willing donors but due to the eligibility and qualification criteria not all will be able to donate. Mahatma Gandhi Blood Bank in Thane will be storing the frozen plasma. This bank can store up to 1,000 frozen plasma.
A plasma donor can save two lives, added Patil. Most patients just need 200 ml of plasma (one unit), some need it for a second time (200 ml). It usually takes 24-48 hours to know if the patient is responding well to plasma therapy.
The plasma therapy is administered to those patients that are moderately ill and can prevent these patients from becoming critically ill. She added plasma has had productive results for moderately ill patients. “Plasma therapy is about treating the patient before he or she reaches the stage where the person needs a ventilator.”
At this time of shortage of drugs like Remdesivir, there is a need for patients to look for alternative options of investigative therapy like plasma, suggested Patil. “We are running out of drugs (thus, opt for plasma). So, COVID-19 patients should look for this option.”
There is a shortage of antiviral drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab drugs in the country. Yet, there are not many takers for plasma therapy. It is estimated that (based on the minimum dosage administered to COVID-19 patients) a treatment based on antiviral drugs will cost around Rs 30,000, but a plasma therapy at Vedant Hospital will cost not more than Rs 12,000. At present, the government is in talks to cap cost of plasma therapy.
In the case of antiviral drugs and plasma therapy — both are investigative therapy. No medication has proven its efficacy against COVID-19.