New Delhi: A day after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to all COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma for serious patients undergoing treatment for the disease, about 300 Tablighi Jamaat members who had recovered from COVID-19 came forward.
“Come forward and donate plasma. We all want to recover and survive the coronavirus crisis. If tomorrow, a patient is Hindu and is serious, who knows maybe the plasma of a Muslim person can save him or if a Muslim patient is serious, maybe the plasma of a Hindu person can save him,” Kejriwal said on Sunday.
Jamaat chief Maulana Saad Kandhavli, who was booked for culpable homicide after thousands of attendees of the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi’s Nizamuddin tested positive for COVID-19, appealed to COVID-19 survivors from the Muslim community to donate blood plasma for the treatment of other patients.
On the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, members of the Tablighi Jamaat donated blood samples. Out of them, around 300 — 190 in Narela, 51 in Sultanpur and 42 in Mangoli – are eligible to donate their plasma. The state government will procure signed copies of their consent before proceeding.
This move comes after members of the Muslim community were singled out for blame for the spread of the pandemic and were boycotted, subjected to violent attacks and labelled carriers of the coronavirus in the country.
What is convalescent plasma therapy?
A five-member committee headed by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) Director S.K. Sarin had recommended use of the convalescent plasma therapy to treat severally-ill coronavirus patients.
According to reports, the Delhi government has also received approval from the Union health ministry to use this therapy to treat severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
As The Wire has previously explained, convalescent plasma refers to plasma obtained from an individual who has recuperated from an infection. An individual’s immune system develops a type of antibody after having mounted an attack on a foreign virus. Once the individual has recuperated from the infection, these antibodies remain suspended in the circulating blood, and can be separated out from one of the components of blood – the plasma.
Early reports have indicated that this therapy has shown promising results in the treatment of severely ill COVID-19 patients and clinical trials for the same have been approved in multiple countries, including in India.
For a donor to be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, he or she must have recovered from a COVID-19 infection and have been free of the disease, or any symptoms, for at least 28 days or should have been free of symptoms and have tested negative for the virus at least 14 days before the plasma can be used.
There aren’t likely to be many donors of such plasma if the number of COVID-19 cases is low. A donor can donate her plasma up to twice a week with a minimum gap of 48 hours, and a maximum of 24 times in a year in India.
For the plasma to be effective for the treatment for others, it must contain a certain level of antibodies. Since each person’s response to the virus is different, some individuals have more antibodies in their blood than others and hence not all convalescent plasma can be considered to be equally effective.
The US Food and Drug Administration has suggested that the donated blood must be tested before it can be used.