In a major initiative to counter the Covid-19 pandemic, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday inaugurated 'Project PLATINA' - India's first and the world's largest - Plasma Therapy Trial Centre in Nagpur.
"This trial centre will help formulate definite treatment guidelines for the entire country in managing critical Covid-19 patients... and will be a milestone during the pandemic," said Thackeray at the video-conferencing launch.
He has sanctioned Rs 16.65 crore for Project Platina and clinical trials from the CM's Relief Fund, and the project has been completed in barely three weeks.
With this project, the government hopes to save around 500 seriously ill Covid-19 patients in the state free of cost, amidst recent apprehensions of prohibitively high costs for this form of treatment expressed in some circles.
"Convalscent 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 drugs for the same... with a success rate of over 90 per cent," Thackeray said.
The trials will be carried out in 23 medical colleges in the state including 17 under the state government's Department of Medical Education & Drugs, and four colleges of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai.
Each critical patient would receive 2 doses of 200 ml of convalescent plasma from recovered patients which contains antibodies against coronavirus that will fight the infection and help the serious patients recover.
Appealing to people who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate in large numbers, Thackeray assured that the donors have no health problems after plasma donations as the red blood cells are returned back to them.
Also present at the video-inauguration were Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Medical Education Minister Amit V. Deshmukh and Minister of State Rajendra Patil Yedravkar, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, Energy Minister Nitin Raut, Industry Minister Subhash Desai, Mumbai Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh, and top officials from different departments.
Four other facilities were inaugurated simultaneously: Plasma Donation, Plasma Bank, Plasma Trial and Emergency Authorisation centres.
The development came on a day when the state extended the ongoing lockdown till July 31 in view of the serious Covid-19 crisis.
Maharashtra currently has 164,626 lakh Covid-19 positives with 7,429 fatalities, the highest in the country.