With physicians finding receptor binding domain (RBD) plasma highly effective in the viremic phase (first 8 to 10 days) of COVID infection, the demand for strong anti viral therapy has steadily been increasing. However, RBD plasma seems to be scarce as all recovered COVID patients do not qualify for donation. Even after meeting the criteria, such as being free of any lifestyle diseases and other co-morbidities, a donor needs to undergo more than 640 anti body tests to be effective.
Nagpur based Lifeline has over 15 storage centres in the region where the daily demand for RBD plasma had gone up to 100 bags per day (in mid November), its medical director, Dr Harish Warbhe stated. "We had conducted some camps to harvest RBD plasma. I am trying to hold more camps. Now, I feel social and religious organisations too must come forward to convince community members to donate plasma," he said.
"The use of RBD plasma in the United States has significantly gone up while WHO studies on new anti viral drugs is not encouraging. In India, centres at Pune, Mumbai and other big cities are gradually shifting to conducting RBD testing before harvesting plasma using different techniques," Dr Warbhe informed.
The Government's Platina Therapy Project that is dubbed as the world's largest convalescent plasma trial is still following the traditional blind therapy without carrying out RBD testsSurprisingly, the government's Platina Therapy Project that is dubbed as the world's largest convalescent plasma trial is still following the traditional blind therapy without carrying out RBD tests. US FDA approved the world's first RBD antibody testing kit on July 31st last.
"We had called those in the second week of August at Lifeline and started India's first RBD Plasma Bank on September 6. Incidentally, we get high RBD antibody level only in 2 or 4 patients out of a total of 10 recovered COVID patients (approximate estimate). This explains the inefficacy and variable results of old, traditional blind plasma therapy," he informed.
"Our immune system produces multiple antibodies against COVID 19 but not all are protective. The RBD antibody is protective as it prevents the entry of virus inside the human cell and clears or kills the virus," he said, adding that if given in the first 8 to 10 days (viremic phase), the viral load comes down to zero in 24 hours. "Hence, this new scientific and rational RBD plasma therapy has become the first line of therapy for saving the lives of COVID patients," Dr Warbhe stated.
Toeing the example of 40 Indian Army personnel, who had recovered from COVID19 and donated their plasma in collaboration with Assam State Health Department at Tezpur Medical College in August, the president of Arunachal Pradesh Indian Medical Association unit, Dr. Lobsang Tsetim along with the general secretary Dr Jego Ori are presently conducting a six day plasma donation drive at Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Science, Naharlagun to meet the shortage of plasma for COVID 19 patients.