Kerala’s fast-moving approach on beating down Covid-19 has yielded results that show in the flattening of its infection curve, highest recovery rate and low mortality. It was the first to decentralise surveillance and enable village-level symptom-reporting and quarantine monitoring. It moved early on antibody testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection. It was even the first Indian state to set up testing kiosks, quite in the manner South Korea, which is being feted for its Covid-19 response, did early on. Now, the state has sought and received ICMR approval for exploring the feasibility of convalescent plasma transfusion—a therapy in which blood plasma from individuals who have recovered from Covid-19, that is, their immune system has developed antibodies (present in the plasma) to beat the disease, is transfused into a person critically ill with the disease.
While a member of the expert committee on tackling the pandemic in India notes that currently, “there are no specific antiviral agents which have been found to be effective in treatment of Covid-19”, given how different jurisdictions are testing a wide range of pharmacological interventions, Kerala’s approach isn’t as odd as it seems. More so, since plasma therapy has been used in the treatment of Ebola, H1N1 and SARS. The exploration of this measure for Covid-19 is based on a study by doctors in China, the findings of which have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the Chinese trial, the plasma of recovered individuals was transferred to five critical patients; an improvement in the condition of the five was noticed following this, and all of them were discharged later. Kerala’s strategic approach to tackling the Covid-19 outbreak in its jurisdiction offers a lesson to the rest of the country.