This festival was a manifestation of the cultural bridge that represented connections among French, Indian, and Bengali cinemas over the years.
The West Bengal government’s decision to set up a plasma bank at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, very recently designated as an entity for the treatment of coronavirus patients, has been generally welcomed by the medical fraternity primarily because it promises to be a facility to boost Covid therapy trial.
Yet misgivings about the number of people who will readily agree to donate plasma post-recovery are not wholly unfounded. In point of fact, only a few potential donors have come forward ever since clinical trial of plasma therapy was introduced a few months ago. The bank will be put in place to conduct trials by storing plasma cells donated by people who have recovered. These will then be infused into patients who are undergoing treatment for coronavirus.
From a donor’s perspective, this must rank as perhaps an exceptional instance of man’s humanity towards man. In real terms, the former patient will come to the rescue of the present. It is fervently to be hoped that this will help cure many more people afflicted with the virus. Doctors, who have largely been overlooked in matters medical, have reaffirmed that plasma collected from the blood of a person after he/she has recovered does contain anti-viral antibodies. The patient is given 200 ml of plasma, stored in minus 80 degrees Celsius for two days.
The blood is then analysed for immune response. The plasma bank will help the hospital to conduct clinical trials. It will, though, take some time for the essential infrastructure to be fully functional. Experts in blood transfusion have been trying plasma therapy on patients with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. The procedure has been approved by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata. The first person to donate plasma for the trial was an Indian student at the University of Edinburgh.
She had tested positive after she arrived in Kolkata on her way home to Habra in North 24-Parganas, one of the acutely afflicted districts in the state. Though initial trends are encouraging, doctors and scientists are having to contend with a degree of reluctance from potential donors. As a doctor has lamented: “Forty patients are supposed to get plasma as part of the trial that began two months ago. Till date, we have been able to infuse plasma into ten patients and have managed to get 12 donors.”
On the face of it, there ought not to be a shortage of donors and also, of course, plasma. Going by the health department’s data, more than 15,000 people have recovered from Covid-19 in West Bengal till Monday. Above all,the donors will have to be convinced and even counselled to abjure superstition and prejudice. Bengal, along with the rest of the world, faces a humanitarian crisis.