The outbreak of COVID-19 and a massive amount of people being infected all around the globe has led to an existential crisis. Where the cure is still not known and vaccines are taking long enough to be developed, the news flash that “PASSIVE IMMUNIZATION CAN BE USED FOR
TREATMENT” has built hope for the community with a thought that they will be as right as rain soon.
A glimpse into Immunity
Immunity to any disease is produced through the presence of antibodies to that disease in a
person’s system. Antibodies are proteins and are disease-specific, produced by the body to
destroy disease-carrying organisms.
It works by two mechanisms:
Active Immunity: It is long-lasting, and sometimes life-long which results when exposure to a disease organism triggers the immune system to produce antibodies. e.g. Vaccination.
Passive Immunity: It lasts only for a few weeks or months and achieved when a person is given someone else’s antibodies to a disease rather than producing them through his immune system.
e.g. Breast Milk.
WHY PASSIVE IMMUNIZATION?
The “loaned” antibodies help prevent certain infectious diseases. The protection offered by passive immunization is short-lived but it helps protect right away. Vaccines typically necessitate time (weeks or months ) to generate protective immunity in an individual to achieve optimum protection. Passive immunization, which is quick-acting, producing an immune response within hours or days, faster than a vaccine. Moreover, can reverse a deficient immune system, which is especially helpful in someone who does not respond to immunization. The major hindrance is its cost and harvesting.
DOES PASSIVE IMMUNIZATION HELP IN COMBATING COVID-19?
It has been expressed by one of the renowned Hematologists of Pakistan, Dr. Tahir Shamsi MD – NIBD, that this technique will be executed via blood plasma from a recovered patient from COVID-19 and introduced into the blood of a patient currently suffering from the coronavirus infection. The injected plasma then produces antibodies and ultimately fights off the virus.
He, the father of Hematology in Pakistan.
Dr. Shamsi has given the idea to use “Convalescent blood plasma”, the liquid component of blood taken from someone who has survived a COVID-19 infection. It is due to the unavailability of vaccines, drugs, or other specific treatments, such blood products are the only curative
strategy available. This plan is under consideration with medical bodies and researchers are rushing to set up clinical trials to test how effective convalescent plasma is against COVID-19. Now, collective efforts should focus not only on the complete evaluation of the efficacy of
plasma treatment for infectious diseases but also to ensure that the production of Convalescent plasma takes place according to precise ethical and controlled conditions as per the protocol.