The Bengal government, in an attempt to bolster its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, has decided to set up its first blood plasma bank. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said it would be set up at Medical College Hospital (MCH).
The Delhi government on Sunday became the first in the country to have set up a blood plasma bank. A day later, Bengal looks set to become the second.
The private sector, too, is not far behind: Medica Superspecialty Hospital has taken the first step towards setting up its own plasma bank.
Although plasma therapy is yet to be approved for Covid-19 patients, several scientists and researchers believe the approach — which involves administering antibody-rich plasma from recovered patients into the body of a patient — could be very promising. Health department experts said the bank was being set up in order to prepare for the future.
“Some mechanisms are already in place, as we have started collecting plasma for an ongoing clinical trial. We are gearing up to move a step further and set up the plasma bank,” said transfusion medicine specialist Prasun Bhattacharya, head of the immunohaematology and blood transfusion department, MCH.
“Clinical trials in some countries have shown positive results on plasma therapy in Covid treatment. Though it is yet to be approved by ICMR as a mode of treatment in India and the state’s own clinical trial is yet to come out with results, we expect a favourable result and hence need to keep ourselves ready so that plasma is available as and when ICMR recommends it. In the meantime, the bank will boost the clinical trial team with a steady supply,” said a health department official.
A clinical trial on passive immunisation with convalescent plasma is taking place at the state-run Infectious Diseases & Beliaghata General Hospital in a joint project with CSRI-IICB, for which plasma is collected at MCH. Fifteen donors have contributed to the plasma pool. Health department officials said they were working on the mechanism on approaching potential plasma donors.
“A plasma bank is a repository where all plasma collected from donors will be kept under specific conditions. It requires precise record-maintenance,” added Bhattacharya, who is also one of the investigators in the clinical trial. Any person who has recovered from Covid-19, who does not have certain underlying health conditions, can be a donor after about 21 days of testing negative.
Alok Roy, the chairman of Medica Superspecialty Hospital, which is planning the first privately run plasma bank, said: “Recovery should be the rule in Covid treatment and death the exception. We believe plasma will help in that direction, which is why we planned the bank. We started with one donor on Monday.”
Source:Times of India