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Experimental plasma therapy poses risk

Published : 04 Jul 2020 09:23 PM | Updated : 04 Sep 2020 11:58 PM

In a situation where coronavirus-infected patients are burdened with health and financial woes, plasma therapy continues without conducting all necessary tests and examinations to make coronavirus treatment risky.

Allegations pour in that plasma donors are not being examined to find all their medical parameters right and even healthy persons donating plasma, as public health experts have vented worries about consequences. 

Commenting on such unethical act, public health experts explained plasma receivers will have to bear long-term effect.

They said, plasma is not recognized as a specific treatment for any disease. On an average, 14 percent of people in the country have a viral infection. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct all tests before inserting plasma. Otherwise, the patient may fall in great danger.

According to the experts, that so far 70 to 80 per cent of the plasma taking patients in the country, who have been infected with corona, have died. 

The remaining 20 to 30 percent of patients have recovered. They think that those who have recovered would have recovered even if they had not been given plasma.

Medicine specialist of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital Dr Ruhul Amin said, “In a country where the prevalence of viral diseases is high, safe blood circulation must be seen to ensure that the blood or its components are free from the virus through molecular tests, not rapid tests.”

“There is no scope of plasma instilling without it, although it always happens in Bangladesh. Moreover, not all rapid test capabilities are the same. 

The recent nationwide outbreak of Hepatitis B under the umbrellas of the CDC in our country has yielded alarming results. Those who have relied only on rapid tests instead of molecular tests are at risk,” he mentioned.

In this context, public health expert of National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) and virologist Mohammad Jamaluddin said that since 1954, plasma has been applied to the bodies of patients suffering from various bacterial infections. 

But whenever the situation becomes normal, it stops. This means that plasma application is an experimental method to control any type of infectious disease.

He also said, plasma is not recognized as a specific treatment for any disease. The World Health Organization has repeatedly stated that plasma therapy can be used as a trial but not as a medical procedure. 

“But a group of doctors in our country are confusing the patients by suggesting them to do it as treatment. In this way, the patient who is surviving from the critical condition will survive the rest of his life by being infected with another deadly virus or lead to tragic death,” the expert articulated.

Talking to the Bangladesh Post medicine Professor Z M Kabir Chodwhury said that there is no plasma neutralizing antibody testing machine in the country. As a result, plasma is taken from a healthy patient by testing antibodies in a field-specific rapid test. 

“But issues whether plasma is healthy or not, how much antibody is there and how much it needs to be given are overlooked. This is risky and unscientific.”

In this regard, the head professor of the Department of Hematology, Dhaka Medical College. MA Khan told that a guideline is required to give plasma which is absent.  Infected patients usually get better initially if they are given plasma. But in many cases, it is given to dying patients, and so benefits are not being obtained. 

He said that, in the case of giving plasma, the viral infection is tested. But the amount of plasma in the blood is not seen as that opportunity is limited. If the ratio of 1: 1.60 is not in the blood then no benefit can be obtained with that plasma.

According to experts, a few things need to be confirmed before choosing a blood donor for plasma therapy. For example, coronavirus infection of the blood donor has to be confirmed through RT-PCR. 

Confirmation must be made that the blood donor's disease (Covid-19) has been completely cured at least 14 days ago, besides confirming that the blood donor is completely healthy at the time of donating blood. 

From time to time RT-PCR should be done to check the blood donor's respiratory sample or blood to make sure that the result is negative. In addition, coronavirus antibodies should be tested in the blood of the donor through ELISA test.

Screening of blood donors should also be done to ensure that the patients do not have HIV or Hepatitis B-C viruses.