December 9, 2023

Top medical experts welcome move to remove plasma therapy from COVID-19 treatment protocol

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Several top medical experts have welcomed the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s updated advisory released on Monday dropping the use of convalescent plasma from recommended treatment protocols for COVID-19.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital chairman Dr DS Rana said plasma therapy has failed to change the “course of mortality” and asserted that some scientists are also of the view that it is helping in promoting mutations and variants.

“I think it is wise that plasma therapy has been taken off the list because over a period of one year it has failed to change the course of mortality. Every step taken should absolutely be based on the evidence. Some scientists are also of the view that this is helping in promoting mutations and variants,” he added.

With an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, there has been an unprecedented spur in the demand for plasma which many experts believe to have done more harm than good.

Dr Sheeba Marwah, Assistant Professor and COVID-19 Nodal Officer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital said:

“The current research being done globally using convalescent plasma of patients recovered from COVID-19 for treatment of new COVID-19 patients have not yielded any efficacious results when it comes to modifying the disease course or thwarting its progression to severe disease and averting mortality. Even the ICMR’s PLACID Trial concluded convalescent plasma therapy to be non-beneficial.”

Marwah stated that on the contrary, “possibilities of more virulent strains having surfaced due to its irrational use are very much there, so it’s a good decision to remove it from the national protocol.”

Earlier, as per the ICMR advisory on April 22, Convalescent plasma (Off label) was considered only when the following criteria were met: Early moderate disease (preferably within 7 days of symptom onset, no use after 7 days) and Availability of high titre donor plasma (Signal to the cut-off ratio (S/O) >3.5 or equivalent depending on the test kit being used).

As per the previous advisory, Remdesivir, Tocilizumab (off label) and Convalescent plasma (Off label) were used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. However, the latest advisory mentions that only Remdesivir, Tocilizumab (off label) can be used.

The recent view on discontinuing the use of plasma therapy comes a day after a meeting of ICMR-National Task Force for COVID-19 was held during which its ‘ ineffectiveness’ in a number of cases was discussed.

As India’s daily spike of coronavirus cases witnesses, a dip with only 2,63,533 fresh infections recorded in the last 24 hours, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 continues to remain alarmingly high with 4,329 more fatalities, the highest toll in a single day since the pandemic began.

According to the Union Health Ministry, the country also saw a massive jump in the number of recoveries with 4,22,436 fresh discharges.

The cumulative caseload stands at 2,52,28,996, including 2,15,96,512 recoveries, 33,53,765 active cases and 2,78,719 deaths.

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