Clinical trials for plasma therapy for COVID-19 remedy

Clinical trials for plasma therapy to treat coronavirus patients launched in Bengaluru

Anyone requiring plasma in the state can be shifted to Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru. Picture for representation only.

Karnataka Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar and Health Minister B Sriramulu on Saturday symbolically launched the clinical trials for convalescent plasma therapy at the Victoria Hospital.

On Saturday, the consent of two patients who recovered from Covid-19 was taken for the donation of their plasma. They were also counselled for the therapy.

“We have a separate building dedicated to Covid-19 patients who have recovered, where they will donate their plasma,” said HCG Hospital’s head and neck cancer surgeon and principal investigator of the clinical trial Dr Vishal Rao. He said the recipient will be at the Victoria Hospital.

Anyone requiring plasma in the state can be shifted to Victoria. “The only criteria for plasma therapy are criticality,” Dr Rao added. “If people in the ICU give consent to the treatment, they can be inducted into the trial.”

He said several aspects like protocol, donor identification, standard operating procedure and a final decision on the execution of the trial must be made between the two institutions. “We have to announce that we are starting the programme so that people will come forward to donate blood and plasma,” he said.

'I'm excited and happy' 

While one of the two donors refused to come on video call, the other appeared and spoke to minister Sudhakar, who asked if he was excited or happy.

“I’m both excited and happy. Even if I help one person come out of this (Covid-19), I’ll feel proud and humble,” the donor said.

Thanking the donor, Dr Sudhakar expressed his wish that more people should come forward and donate plasma.

Plasma from one person can be used for two. If frozen, the plasma will be viable up to a year. Without refrigeration, it will last for a month.

The market rate for plasmapheresis (a process in which the liquid part of the blood, or plasma, is separated from the blood cells) is Rs 8,000 per cycle, but the patient has no cost burden since this is a clinical trial.