Kerala has got the crucial approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research for testing plasma transfusion as a mode of treatment for critical COVID-19 patients in the state. The multi-centre trials, however, are still awaiting permissions from the Drug Controller of India, since this involves relaxation in blood donation norms.
The Convalescent Plasma Therapy involves transfusion of plasma from a person who recovered from Coronavirus into a patient who is likely to get critical. The recovered person's plasma, rich in antibodies, is expected to help the critical patient recover.
The donor has to be a patient who has recovered, showed multiple negative testing and showed no symptoms after 14 days of isolation.
"If the person who has recovered gives consent, we can test for antibody levels," Dr Anoop Kumar, part of medical expert panel set up to advice Chief Minister and a critical care doctor at Baby Memorial Hospital, told NDTV.
"This is not like blood donation. Only the plasma from the body is collected. A person who weighs 55 kg and has ample protein in blood, can donate 800 ml of plasma, which can be used for treating four patients. One patient would require 200 ml of plasma," he added.
The Plasma Therapy is meant only for COVID-19 patients who are likely to get crititcal and on ventilator support.
Sources said ELISA test kits are crucial for checking the antibody levels. But with the lockdown and flights affected form abroad, that is going to be challenge at this point.
This is why the experts are also looking for alternatives in case ELISA testing kits run short.
These are the rapid test kits for COVID-19, which qualitatively indicate the presence of anti-bodies, said sources who are part of the proposals. But these are decisions that are yet to be finalized.
"Sree Chitra is awaiting approval of its ethics committee and of drug controller to start the study. Plasmapheresis will be done at five medical college state hospitals and Sree Chitra will lead the project," Dr Asha Kishore, Director of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology told NDTV.