ANI, PTI, Pixabay
The India Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday lent its support to plasma therapy in moderate cases of COVID-19 infection and said that such patients may need less oxygen with the use of plasma. It is important to note here that the approval for plasma therapy from IMA comes a day after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s National Task Force (NTF) had dropped the use of convalescent plasma therapy from the COVID-19 treatment protocol.
IMA finance secretary and urologist Dr Anil Goel said, "What the IMA is saying is that it (plasma therapy) has been removed as an 'off label' use. But it is a clinical step that in moderate cases where oxygen saturation is low, the patient may need less oxygen to stabilise or saturate the oxygen level with the use of plasma."
While stating that the use of plasma is being put to use with the consent of patients and attendants, Dr Anil Goel said that the high death rate is because the patients are going to hospitals very late, especially those who are in-home quarantine. He said, "I advise them to see a chest specialist at some COVID hospital regularly for their better and early treatment."
After various studies and discussions by experts suggested that plasma therapy on COVID-19 patients was found ineffective, the treatment protocol has now been dropped from the clinical management guidelines by the Centre. The decision came on the basis of recommendations of experts from AIIMS, ICMR-COVID-19 National Task Force and Joint Monitoring Group of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and the Government of India. At the stage of early moderate disease, the guidelines earlier allowed “off label" use of plasma therapy.
The plasma therapy, which includes transfusion of COVID-19 antibodies from the blood of a recovered patient to the one being treated, has not been found effective in reducing the progression to severe disease nor has a decrease in the fatality rate been observed, sources added. The development comes just days after a group of medical practitioners wrote Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) K VijayRaghavan cautioning against the 'irrational and non-scientific use' of convalescent plasma for COVID-19.
In the letter to Principal Scientific Advisor Raghavan, 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.
"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.
As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, India so far has recorded over 2,52,28,996 positive cases, out of which, 2,15,96,512 have successfully recovered and 2,78,719 have died. As per the latest reports from MoHFW, in the past 24 hours, 2,63,533 new cases, 4,22,436 fresh recoveries and 4,329 deaths have been reported. Currently, the total number of active cases in the country is 33,53,765.
(Image: ANI, PTI, Pixabay)