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NEW DELHI : Plasma banks set up to help covid patients are struggling to get donors, desp-ite the high recovery rate from the disease in India.

Plasma from coronavirus survivors contains antibodies which offer protection against the virus when transferred to infected patients. The treatment, called convalescent plasma therapy, is provided to those not responding to conventional treatment.

Any survivor aged 18-60, weighing at least 50kg, and who has completed 28 days after the completion of treatment or home isolation is eligible to donate blood plasma.

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Graphic: Mint


“As of now, convalescent plasma therapy has been approved for compassionate use with various plasma banks being set up to ensure round-the-clock availability. Despite the fact that India has one of the highest cure rates among covid-19 patients, plasma donations have yet to pick up," said DrHarsh Vardhan, Union minister of health and family welfare.

Blood banks assess the eligibility of donors for blood donation and check their antibody levels before they can donate. This process is completed in one to three hours and plasma can be collected the same day.

Vardhan on Sunday flagged off a plasma donation campaign at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, where 26 police personnel who recovered from covid-19 volunteered to donate.

Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala have already started plasma banks and several others plan to follow suit. However, the shortage of donors continues to be a problem.

“After going through a stressful recovery from covid-19, most recovered patients are fearful of revisiting hospital settings for plasma donation. There’s a sense of anxiety and stigma around health, safety, and lack of understanding of the process, among others," said Suryaprabha Sadasivan, vice-president and healthcare practice lead at Chase India, a health research and public policy consulting firm.

“Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on a behavioural change campaign that busts myths surrounding plasma donation, creates awareness on the simplicity of the process given the technological advancements available and most importantly, highlights the altruism associated with the donation which could save so many lives," she said.

The recovery rate is increasing steadily, with 23,672 recoveries in the last 24 hours. The total number of recovered patients is 688,254, taking the recovery rate to 62.86%.

“Since our population is used to living in poor unhygienic conditions, the resistance to covid-19 is much better. The recovery rate is impressive. Even among those who have tested positive, many showed minor symptoms and recovered without entering any serious stage," said Arup Mitra, health economist and professor of economics at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University.

The case fatality rate on Sunday fell below 2.5%, the health ministry said, while the toll reached 27,079 and the total tally of cases stood at 1,096,617. India has one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.

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