Maharashtra to conduct world’s largest convalescent plasma therapy trial

Mumbai, MaharashtraWritten By: Pragya JhaUpdated: Jun 29, 2020, 05:04 PM IST

In last 24 hours, India registered 3,33,533 new coronavirus infections (representative image). Photograph:(AFP)

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Convalescent plasma therapy is an experimental treatment used on patients with severe coronavirus disease

Soon Maharashtra would begin trials for the world’s largest convalescent plasma therapy, to treat critical patients of Covid-19. A step in this direction was taken today when state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated Project PLATINA, a mega convalescent plasma therapy trial and project.

Launched by the medical Education and Drugs Department, the e-inauguration was attended by various ministers including Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh- Minister of Medical Education and Cultural Affairs, Rajesh Tope- Minister of Public Health and Family Welfare and Rajendra Patil Yedravkar- Minister for Medical Education and Drugs and Cultural Affairs. 

Also read: Over 3 lakh COVID-19 patients cured, recovery rate at 58%: Health ministry

A statement issued by the Chief Minister’s office said, “This trial will help formulate definite treatment guidelines for the entire country in managing serious COVID patients and thus be a milestone in turning a page in this pandemic. The PLATINA trial will be World’s largest trial and hence will give robust data regarding role of convalescent plasma in treatment of Covid 19 patients, thereby helping Governments to issue guidelines in the management of the pandemic.” 

Convalescent plasma therapy is an experimental treatment used on patients with severe coronavirus disease. Plasma is a component of blood that contains antibodies, the blood of people who have recovered from Covid-19 infection contains required antibodies.

These antibodies are molecules that have learned to recognise and fight the pathogens, such as viruses, that cause the disease. In recent times, world over researchers and healthcare professionals have been studying the possibility of using this method to treat people with Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Under this trial in Maharashtra, all critical patients will receive two doses of 200ml of convalescent plasma. The entire plasma treatment will be free of cost to all coronavirus patients admitted in any one of the 21 listed Covid centers of the government.  

In his virtual address to the state on Sunday, CM Thackeray had urged Covid-19 survivors to come forward and donate their plasma to strengthen the fight against the pandemic.  

The Chief Minister’s Office through its relief fund has allocated Rs 16.85 crore for the project cum research trial. Ahead of the launch, crucial planning, clearances and most importantly completion of dedicated Covid-19 plasma banks to initiate this project was accomplished within 21 days.

Today’s launch would enable, clinical trials with immediate effect, setting up of covid-19 plasma banks at 13 centres, eligible donors to donate plasma and in cases of emergency permission would be granted for convalescent plasma in mild and moderate cases in dedicated COVID hospitals, government, private and charitable.

Also, the state intends to take this study further and isolate monoclonal antibodies against COVID from this plasma and study its structure and possibly produce it in an artificial form. As a collateral benefit, this will create an infrastructure of plasmapheresis in all medical colleges in various districts of Maharashtra, said the Chief Minister's 

As per latest data, Maharashtra has 70,607 active cases of Covid-19, almost half of these have been reported from its capital city of Mumbai.