Coronavirus / Plasma therapy dropped as COVID-19 treatment by government task force

Zoom News : May 18, 2021, 07:22 AM
New Delhi: The government on Monday dropped the convalescent plasma therapy from the clinical protocol for management of COVID-19 patients as it was found not beneficial in reducing the progression to severe disease or death.

Until now, India's Covid-19 treatment protocol allowed off-label use of plasma therapy at the stage of early moderate disease, that is, within seven days of the onset of symptoms and if there is availability of a high titre donor plasma.

The decision comes after a meeting of the ICMR-National Task Force for COVID-19 last week wherein all members were in favour of removing the use of convalescent plasma from the Clinical Guidance for Management of Adult Covid-19 Patients, news agency PTI reported.

The members reportedly cited its ineffectiveness and inappropriate use in several cases.

Considering the task force's recommendation, the ICMR has dropped the use of convalescent plasma in the revised guidelines issued for clinical management of COVID-19.

With the cases surging in the country, there has been a spur in the demand for plasma donors, even as experts raise concerns over the efficacy of plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients.

The decision to remove it from the guidelines comes in the backdrop of some clinicians and scientists writing to Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan cautioning against the "irrational and non-scientific use" of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 in the country.

In the letter, which was also marked to ICMR chief Balram Bhargava and AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, public health professionals alleged that the current guidelines on plasma therapy are not based on existing evidence and pointed out some very early evidence that indicates a possible association between emergence of variants with "lower susceptibility to neutralising antibodies in immunosuppressed" people given plasma therapy.

"We are writing to you as concerned clinicians, public health professionals and scientists from India about the irrational and non-scientific use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 in the country.

"This has stemmed from guidelines issued by government agencies, and we request your urgent intervention to address the issue which can prevent harassment of COVID-19 patients, their families, their clinicians and COVID-19 survivors," said the letter.

"The current research evidence unanimously indicates that there is no benefit offered by convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19. However, it continues to be prescribed rampantly in hospitals across India," the letter said.

In plasma therapy, antibodies from the blood of a patient who has recovered from COVID-19 are used to treat serious patients.