A group of 10 persons who have recovered from Covid-19, including doctors and health staff, today donated blood at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) with a view to saving lives of critical Covid-positive persons through the plasma therapy.

Covid Care Network (CCN), an organisation led by a group of doctors, took the initiative to collect the blood so that Covid patients can undergo the convalescent plasma therapy facility in the town.

The state government has already decided to set up Convalescent Covid-19 Plasma (CCP) banks in 20 state-run Blood Component Separation Units (BCSU) by using whole blood of persons who have recovered from Covid-19. The decision was taken after the Indian council of Medical Research (ICMR) allowed Convalescent Plasma to be used ‘off label’ in moderately-ill Covid patients to cater to the increasing need of CCP in the state. One of the 10 donors, Anirban Roy, today expressed happiness and stressed on the need to create awareness among people so that more Covid winners could donate blood. “It is very tough to collect the whole blood of recovered patients without awareness campaigns. We need to organise more blood donation camps and create awareness among Covid winners,” Dr Roy said.

Asked to comment, Director of the Regional Blood Transfusion Centre at the NBMCH, Mridumay Das, said: “Collection of blood from 10 Covid winners is the first step towards the goal for the CCP bank. But we need to collect blood from at least 70 more Covid winners for testing the anti-body to ready plasma for Covid patients.”

“We have started testing the collected blood and processing for separation of the plasma. But we need 70 more units to begin the anti-body tests,” Dr Das said.

“The kit for anti-body testing is very costly. We can use a kit for testing 80 samples that will be cost-effective because the cost of a single kit is Rs 30,000,” he added.

On the other hand, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista today reminded the representative of the Union Health Ministry that Covid-19 cases were rising at an “alarming rate” in North Bengal, and that only 2 Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RTPCR) machines have been sanctioned for over 2.5 crore people.

“I have requested them to implore upon the West Bengal Government to establish RTPCR machines in the Hill regions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts at the earliest, as had been recommended by the IMCT (Inter Ministerial Central Team) team. I have also requested for a second IMCT team to come visit, so that they can take stock of the Covid-19 situation in our region, which is quickly turning from bad to worse,” Mr Bista said