Plasma Donation to Prevent COVID-19

Plasma Donation to Prevent COVID-19 - As information, plasma donation is a specific form of blood donation in which plasma, the clear liquid component of whole blood, is collected during the donor through a process called plasmapheresis. During plasmapheresis, the apheresis machine removes and separates plasma from the rest of the blood. Although plasma contains nutrients, proteins, and antibodies, it can be used to develop techniques for treating a disease. The plasma used for this purpose is called recovery plasma.

Plasma Donation to Prevent COVID-19

Plasma Donation to Prevent COVID-19

To note, plasma has been used in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases for centuries. Plasma is used as an adaptive 'passive' initial immunization. This plasma is collected from patients who have recovered from the infection and developed immunity. This is indicated by the presence of antigen-specific antibodies. After transfusions into other patients, plasma can neutralize disease pathogens and eventually clear them from the bloodstream.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revived interest in the use of donor plasma as a potential treatment for the disease, especially before the development of an effective vaccine.

Plasma therapy offers several advantages: large volumes can be collected regularly from donors, without affecting the donor's hemoglobin levels as their red blood cells are reinfused during the donation process. Recruiting donors and transfusing donor plasma on a regional basis can offer the added value of providing specific passive immunity to changes in local strains of the infectious agent.

Efficacy of Plasma For Coronavirus

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, plasma was used successfully to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and avian influenza outbreaks. In the case of SAR treatment, administration of recovery plasma was associated with lower mortality and earlier discharge from hospital if given within 14 days of the onset of disease.

Plasma Donation To Treat COVID-19

A preliminary study conducted in China evaluated the impact of recovered plasma in ten severely hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The study found that clinical symptoms of COVID-19 were significantly reduced in all patients, with fever, shortness of breath, cough and especially chest pain improving. Inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein also appear to be reduced after transfusion.

What is a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)?

RCT is a type of experiment that aims to reduce bias in randomized interpretation of results by assigning test takers to one of two states: experimental or control. In the experimental (or group) setting, participants receive the study intervention while the control group receives placebo or conventional treatment.

The first RCT was conducted in China and randomized 103 participants to receive plasma therapy or standard treatment. However, the trial was stopped early because of the reduced rate of infection.

The clinical outcome analysis showed no significant difference in recovery time or mortality rates between plasma therapy and the control group. However, the initial subgroup analysis showed clinical benefits for those with severe COVID-19. Early closure of the study may statistically reduce trials, and the authors suggest that larger trials should be undertaken.

Is Convalence Plasma Therapy Ineffective in COVID-19?

Researchers have not yet dismissed the use of plasma therapy as a potential treatment of COVID-19, and several countries have obtained regulatory approval to include it as a therapy. Trials prove methodologically difficult due to the complexity of conducting research during a pandemic with complex patients.

Recent studies include plasma with levels of COVID-19 antibodies 6-10 times higher than studies in India. An interim analysis of data collected as part of this study suggests that receiving plasma with high antibody levels significantly reduces mortality.

In short, there is still no conclusive evidence on the role of plasma therapy in COVID-19 and it has proven difficult to conduct trials during a pandemic for methodological reasons.

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