The Delhi government will set up a first-of-its-kind ”plasma bank” in the country for treating COVID-19 patients, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday, even as the number of coronavirus cases crossed the 85,000 mark in the national capital.
Meanwhile, the Centre said a door-to-door survey will be done in containment zones of Delhi on priority basis by July 6, followed by a similar exercise across the national capital. The earlier deadline to complete the survey in the city”s containment zones was June 30.
Delhi recorded 2,084 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the infection tally in the city to 85,161, while the death toll mounted to 2,680 with 57 fresh fatalities on Monday, a bulletin issued by the health department said.
Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said the plasma bank will be operational in the next two days.
It will be set up at the Delhi government-run Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and doctors or hospitals will have to approach it for plasma if a COVID-19 patient needs the same.
The chief minister said the AAP government will encourage those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma. A helpline will also be set up for queries related to donation of plasma.
He said his government will also make transportation arrangements for those willing to donate their plasma.
Kejriwal said relatives of a COVID-19 patient are free to give plasma to the patient and it is not necessary to only donate to the bank.
“The plasma bank will be the first-of-its-kind for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Perhaps, it will be the first plasma bank in the country,” he said.
The need for setting up such a bank was felt when people were running from pillar to post to get plasma, he said, adding that both government and private hospitals will be able to get plasma from the facility.
He, however, said the plasma therapy is not a “sanjeevani booti” (divine herb).
“Usually, it is difficult to save lives of those patients who are in the last stage or with comorbidities and are on ventilator support. Those patients who are in a moderate stage… this therapy is very helpful for them,” he said.
In the plasma therapy, antibodies from blood of patients, who have recovered from coronavirus, are used to treat infected patients. It is aimed at assessing the efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit complications in coronavirus patients.
Kejriwal said his government has so far conducted clinical trials of plasma therapy on 29 COVID-19 patients and the result was “encouraging”.
The chief minister said in the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital, plasma therapy was conducted on 35 COVID-19 patients, and of them, 34 were saved and one patient died.
Similarly, 49 patients were administered the therapy in private hospitals and 46 people recovered from the deadly virus.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, who had tested positive for COVID-19, was also administered plasma therapy. He has now recovered.
Urging people to come forward and donate their plasma, he said, “In one’s entire life, there is a very little chance to save someone”s life and you (those recovered from COVID-19) have got this chance.”
Incidentally, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also launched convalescent plasma therapy-cum-trial project for treatment of critical COVID-19 patients with a state medical education department official claiming that it is the “largest initiative of its kind in the world”.
Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij also said the state will soon start convalescent plasma therapy in all its medical colleges.
On house-to-house survey, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it will be done first in the COVID-19 containment zones in Delhi on priority basis by July 6, followed by a similar exercise across the national capital.
So far 3.68 lakh people living in the containment zones have been screened, a Delhi government official said.
Last week, the government had launched a mammoth exercise to screen the national capital”s population for the novel coronavirus and fixed the deadline to complete the task by July 6. A serological survey across the national capital is also underway.
“Door-to-door survey will be done first in containment zones on priority basis by July 6 (date extended as number of containment zones has increased to 435).
“This will be followed by a door-to-door survey in the entire Delhi,” an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
Kejriwal also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore for the family of senior doctor Assem Gupta of the city government-run LNJP Hospital who died battling COVID-19, and said the society has “lost a very valuable fighter”.
The 52-year-old doctor served in the frontline of the war against the pandemic at the government facility, and died of the novel coronavirus infection in an ICU of a private hospital on Sunday.
In a related development, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has made a slew of recommendations to the LNJP Hospital, a dedicated COVID-19 facility which had come under the criticism of the Supreme Court earlier this month.
The recommendations include monitoring of quality of food served to patients to providing psychological counselling to medical and paramedical staff on COVID-19 duty.