ICMR drops plasma therapy for the treatment of COVID-19 patients

On Monday, the AIIMS-ICMR Covid-19 National Task Force and the Health Ministry decided to drop convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) from its official national clinical management for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Use of blood plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 was used to help positive patients recover.

The decision makes it clear that the convalescent plasma theory doesn’t provide any therapeutic benefits in active COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This comes three days after the findings of the RECOVERY trial published in The Lancet medical journal.

Findings

The study found that when compared with normal care of COVID-19 patients, the use of convalescent plasma had no effect on 28 days mortality. In India, the treatment was used widely even though many doctors said it had no effect. 

People started searching for donors on social media and fake donors often wasted the time of people whose loved ones were admitted in the hospital. Similar findings were seen in studies conducted in China and Netherlands. 

“In patients hospitalised with COVID-19, high-titer convalescent plasma did not improve survival or other prespecified clinical outcomes,” according to the researchers.

Confusion

Indian medical management issued protocol last year on off-label use of convalescent plasma under specific criteria: Positive patient showing symptoms within seven days and no use after crossing seven days. 

The largest trial conducted by the medical body found that convalescent plasma had no effects in curing COVID-19 patients. Later, ICMR published that convalescent plasma is ineffective in reducing the progression of severe COVID-19 patients.

After the publication of the trial data, the medical body issued evidence-based advice to address the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 patients in the country. 

“We saw no evidence of any material benefit or hazard of convalescent plasma in any patient subgroup. For patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19, convalescent plasma offers no material therapeutic benefits,” said the study.

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