Plasma therapy may be scrapped from COVID-19 national treatment protocol soon: ICMR Chief

Some states, including Delhi and Maharashtra, have already set up plasma banks to match potential donors with recipients.

tech2 News Staff October 21, 2020 08:00:31 IST
Plasma therapy may be scrapped from COVID-19 national treatment protocol soon: ICMR Chief

Prof Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of the ICMR. Image: ANI/Twitter

Convalescent plasma therapy could soon be discontinued as a treatment for COVID-19 patients, the Centre has said Tuesday. The therapy continues to be used widely across the country. This, after plasma therapy failed to benefit COVID-19 patients in the largest randomized trial conducted in India, carried out by the ICMR in August. The study found that plasma didn't particularly help lower mortality or severity of COVID-19 in patients treated with it.

So far, it has been used and permitted as an experimental treatment in the national clinical management of COVID-19 protocol. ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said at a press briefing Tuesday that it could be discontinued soon.

"We are now discussing it with the joint monitoring group for the deletion of plasma therapy from the national guidelines," Dr Bhargava said. "That is the discussion ongoing and more or less we are reaching towards that."

Bhargava's announcement comes just as more reports of the rampant black market for plasma, which can only be donated and not traded. Some states, including the national capital and Maharashtra have also set up plasma banks to match potential donors with recipients.

The findings of the ICMR's plasma study in 39 hospitals across 14 states and Union Territories was made public in September. It showed that plasma didn't appear to have any benefits in moderately-ill COVID-19 patients. The analysis, which was released to a preprint health sciences server in September, is also due to be published in the British Medical Journal, as per a report in the New Indian Express.

A second ICMR paper on plasma therapy, however, says that its success could hinge on the quality of antibodies used. Nearly half the COVID-19 -recovered individuals examined in the study didn't have enough neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus for the therapy to be effective.

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