The presence of a full-fledged Department of Transfusion Medicine has apparently helped the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) get the much-awaited approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to enrol patients in the plasma unit to limit COVID-19- associated complications in moderate disease (placid trial).

The TTD-run super speciality hospital, which became the first institution in Andhra Pradesh to get the nod, has well-trained faculty to conduct M.D. (Transfusion Medicine), considered a rare course. Also, its blood bank has an advanced cell separator equipment that allows collection of plasma in a single bag and its storage in deep freezer. This technology allows avoiding repeated freezing and thawing.

The entire set-up of physical as well as manpower strength has seemingly tilted the balance in the favour of SVIMS. In fact, the super speciality hospital has also received approval from the State government to collect convalescent plasma and has already garnered plasma from five survivors who were discharged from its Sri Padmavathi Medical College for Women (SPMCW), now designated as the State COVID Hospital.

Time-tested method

In convalescent plasma therapy, a dose of antibody-containing plasma obtained from the blood of recovered individuals is transferred to the affected persons to treat it. The State has already collected plasma from various COVID patients.

According to SVIMS Director and Vice-Chancellor B. Vengamma, the study mandates inclusion/exclusion criteria for the donor as well as recipient so as to ensure uniformity across the centres where the study is conducted, in view of the inconsistency the study results have shown in various countries.

This experimental therapy goes back a hundred years having found use in different efficacies in the treatment of Spanish flu as well as the recent 2009 H1N1 influenza, SARS and MERS viruses. It is believed that the therapy could help shorten the duration of COVID-19 illness in a person or make it less dangerous.

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