Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, on April 24, urged the people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma to save lives of those who are still infected and are in serious condition. During the media briefing, the CM said that the Government of Delhi has used plasma therapy on four coronavirus patients, admitted at Lok Nayak Hospital and the results were encouraging.
While urging the people, the CM said that the trials on serious patients, that have been conducted as of yet, were successful and hence those who have recovered from the viral infection are requested to donate the plasma so that other lives can also be saved. The Delhi government will be calling up people requesting them to come forward and also arrangements for travelling to and fro the hospital will be made by the government, he added.
As quoted by a national daily, Dr S K Sarin, who heads the Delhi Government’s COVID-19 taskforce, said, “In our initial planning, we had thought about plasma therapy only for those with chronic respiratory diseases. But because we don’t have any medicine for this so far, we decided to use this to neutralise the virus. There are three phases in this disease. The first is the virus phase, during which the virus enters the body and starts reaching and affecting different parts. The second is the pulmonary phase, during which there are injuries in the lungs, which cause breathing difficulties. In the third phase, cytokines are released in the body. If the patient reaches the third stage, it is the stage of organ failure. If the patient comes to the second stage, where lungs are affected but other organs are working, plasma therapy can work. In the first stage, you can’t catch it.”
Doctors at Lok Nayak Hospital are optimistic about the therapy and have tested three more patients for administering the plasma therapy. The pre-requisites for the therapy are in place. The doctors are of the view that by administering the plasma therapy, patients can be prevented from reaching the third stage of the disease wherein due to the release of cytokines organ failure can occur. According to the doctors, the plasma therapy for the three patients will be completed in 10-15 days.
However, the issue faced by the healthcare staff is of the lack of plasma donors. As per the doctors, plasma taken from those who have recovered from the disease at least three weeks ago will only work. While 857 patients have recovered in the city so far, most of them were discharged in the last week.
According to Dr Sarin, there are nearly 24 patients who can be treated by plasma therapy. As on April 23, there were 23 patients in the ICU and eight on ventilators.
Further, Dr Sarin said that of the four who were given the therapy, two are responding well. They are sitting up and having breakfast. They might be discharged in a week. In the other two, there has been no negative reaction, he added.
The Government of Delhi is now seeking permission to use the therapy across the city.