Plasma therapy has helped reduce Covid-19 death rate by more than 50% at LNJP Hospital

Plasma therapy, which involves the transfer of blood from a recovered Covid-19 patient to someone who is stricken by the disease, has helped reduce the Covid-19 death rate by more than half at Lok Nayak Hospital, the only local government hospital authorised to conduct trials based on the therapy, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday.

He also said the Delhi government was focussing increasing intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the city as soon as possible as the number of coronavirus disease cases increases.

When asked, Lok Nayak hospital said they were not authorised to share the number of deaths in the hospital, and the chief minister’s office said they were still compiling the data.

“We administered plasma therapy to 29 patients in Lok Nayak Hospital and the results were shared with the Central government, following which we got permission for 200 more trials,” Kejriwal said at a virtual media briefing after a meeting of his Cabinet.

“And now, plasma therapy will be done in the Delhi government’s Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital too. Other than that, several private hospitals have acquired permission for plasma therapy trials on their own.”

The cabinet meeting approved a move to earmark 450 beds for patients of the disease at a new hospital in Burari, which will be turned into a Covid-19 facility.

Eight hospitals in Delhi are conducting plasma therapy trials. They include Lok Nayak as well as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, which come under the Central government, and five prominent private hospitals.

The results of the trials, said senior officials in Delhi’s health department, will be made public only after they are published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Kejriwal said the Covid-19 fatality rate in LN Hospital dropped by more than 50% n the past few weeks because of plasma therapy.

“The trends suggest it is difficult to save the lives of patients who are on ventilator support or have already witnessed multiple organ failures. But for other patients with moderate to severe symptoms, plasma therapy helped save lives,” he said.

He attributed a spike in Covid-19 cases in the city over the past week to increased testing.

“Till now, we have around 74,000 Covid-19 cases in Delhi. But if we analyse the trend, the situation is under control…Tests have been increased to around 18,000 per day, from 5,000 to 6,000 per day. With that, the average cases per day have increased from 2,000 to 2,500 to around 3,000 to 3,500. This increase is natural.”

He added: “But people are recovering at a fast rate too. There are around 26,000 active patients now, of which around 6,000 are in hospitals. The others are recovering at their residences. In the last one week, total bed occupancy has remained around 6,000 on an average, despite around 3,000 to 3,500 patients adding up every day. Which means most cases are patients with mild or no symptoms. However, we have around 13,500 beds ready in hospitals, of which around 7,500 are vacant on an average.

“In the coming days, we may need to scale up ICU beds, especially in GTB, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital and Lok Nayak hospital. We are doing our best to accomplish this at the earliest.”

Kejriwal identified his government’s decision to distribute pulse oximeters to patients in home isolation as a measure that has helped reduce Covid-19-related deaths.

“In Covid-19 cases, we have seen oxygen levels can suddenly drop even in cases of patients with mild symptoms. So, we stared delivering oximeters to all cases of home isolation so that patients can keep assessing their oxygen levels periodically, and call a helpline number the moment they see the saturation level drop to 94% or less.”

“Plasma therapy uses the antibodies produced in one person who has recovered from the infection to fight off the virus in another. It is a passive kind of immunisation, where the antibodies of another person help neutralise some of the virus in the body thereby preventing the progression of the disease. This means the therapy has to be administered in patients who are moderate but progressing towards a severe disease. Current evidence from across the world shows that there is some recovery benefits of the therapy, especially those on ventilators” said Dr Neeraj Gupta, a professor from the department of respiratory medicine at Safdarjung hospital. – Hindustan Times

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