Letters to the Editor — May 12, 2020

COVID-19 antibody use

The recent attempt of using convalescent plasma containing the antibodies from patients who have recovered from novel coronavirus illness in the treatment of COVID-19 infection is nothing new. Antiserum therapy was used in diseases such as tetanus.

The anti-tetanus serum was prepared by injecting a limited quantity of the organism into a horse. After a lag period of three weeks or so, blood was collected from the animal and by a set procedure, antiserum was prepared. I have witnessed this procedure in the serum section of King Institute, Guindy, Chennai, in the 1960s, as a student. I retired as Joint Director of Medical Education (Pharm), Government of Tamil Nadu.

This antiserum containing the antibodies confers the passive immunity to the individual against the disease. In the same manner, the convalescent plasma from the recovered coronavirus patient also contains the antibodies against the disease. An attempt is being made to treat new coronavirus patients by infusing this plasma into them. Some success has also been achieved. But there is a problem — the quantity of such convalescent plasma that can be made available is very limited.

It is recently known that 80% of the population which has contracted the virus is in an asymptomatic state, not exhibiting symptoms of the infection but capable of transmitting the disease. It is certain and scientifically correct that these asymptomatic carriers would have formed and contain the antibodies needed against the virus in their blood/plasma/serum. The advantage here is that a good quantity of blood can be made available from this vast majority of asymptomatic carriers.

However, the plasma prepared from their blood, apart from containing the desired antibodies to fight the novel coronavirus disease, may also contain some virus (similar to the antiserum of the olden days). This number is likely to be minimised, attenuated or eliminated by the confronting antibodies which are also present in the same fluid. If this new line of thinking materialises, after research, careful and trials, there could be a breakthrough in treating COVID-19.

Alen Chidambaram,


Unjust and a low

I cannot help but remember two lines from the poem, ‘The Slave in the dismal Swamp’, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, after reading about the plans to dilute labour laws in the wake of reviving the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic: “On him alone was the doom of pain, from the morning of his birth; On him alone the curse of Cain/Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain, And struck him to the earth!”

Although it was written in a different century, it rings true in today’s climate. Not only is the brunt of the lockdown being borne by the labour population but also their right to a dignified life is being threatened by unjust labour law exemptions. Indiscriminate profiteering by capitalists at the expense of the marginalised is nothing new in this country but coming at this point of time, it marks a new low.

Kshitij Mani Tripathi,

Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh


If there is a section of the population more gravely affected than the rest of us, it is those of migrant labourers, whose plight has been most inhumanely forgotten and neglected. India’s pandemic response has been marked by resilience but there is also an astonishing lack of humanity, compassion and concern.

Abhishek Suresh,

Kozhikode, Kerala

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 4:45:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-may-12-2020/article31560943.ece

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