Project PLATINA: Maharashtra launches world's largest convalescent plasma therapy project, Rs 16.65 cr approved

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday launched a convalescent plasma therapy-cum-trial project for treatment of critical COVID-19 patients, dubbed as the world's largest project of its kind. 

In convalescent plasma therapy, antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are used to treat serious patients. Plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from the infection is obtained to inject into patients undergoing treatment.

"‘Project PLATINA’-World’s largest convalescent plasma therapy trial cum treatment of severe COVID 19 patients was today launched by @Maha_MEDD & inaugurated by CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray," the Chief Minister's Office said in a tweet. 

Thackeray has approved Rs 16.65 crore for the purposes of this project cum clinical trial from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The project has reached an inaugural stage in around 21 days.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope and some other ministers also participated in the launch which took place online. 

"Convalescent Plasma therapy is now coming up as one of the most important methods in the treatment of severe COVID 19 patients in the absence of definite treatment or drugs for the same," the CMO said. 

"This is the World’s largest trial cum treatment project, which is to benefit 500 lives of critically ill COVID 19 patients in Maharashtra," it added.

The trial will be carried out at 21 centres across the state, including 17 medical colleges under the Medical Education and Drugs Department and four medical colleges of the BMC in Mumbai. 

All critical patients will receive two doses of 200 ml of convalescent plasma. The government said that the entire plasma therapy treatment will be free of cost to all the patients of Maharashtra admitted in the above centres.

The PLATINA trial will be World’s largest trial and hence will give robust data regarding the role of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID 19 patients, thereby helping Governments to issue guidelines in the management of the pandemic, the state government said. 

This trial will help formulate definite treatment guidelines for the entire country in managing serious COVID patients and thus be a milestone in turning a page in this pandemic, the CMO said in a tweet. 

What is plasma therapy?
In convalescent plasma therapy, antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are used to treat severely infected patients.

The convalescent plasma of a person recovered from a disease contains antibody, a protective protein produced by the immune system in response to the presence of a foreign substance such as a virus. The plasma of such a person contains a higher number of antibodies. The therapy involves using convalescent plasma of a person who has recovered to treat a patient. 

The treatment is used only on serious patients. 

Use of convalescent plasma has been studied in outbreaks of other respiratory infections, including the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 outbreak, the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, and the 2012 MERS-CoV epidemic.

The trials for COVID-19 treatment using plasma therapy are being carried out by different countries and have shown promising results. Scientists are yet to deem it a safe and effective treatment for COVID19.