Even as the popularity of convalescent plasma therapy gains steam across India and the world, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that the therapy is still being experimented upon and no evidence that this can be used as effective COVID-19 treatment has been established. The Ministry warned that unless the therapy is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) after concluding a study, no inappropriate claims be made as it can be harmful to patient.
"ICMR has stated very clearly that there is no approved therapy for COVID-19 including plasma therapy. Plasma therapy is being experimented, however, so far, there is no evidence that this can be used as a treatment. A national-level study has been launched by ICMR to study the therapy's efficacy," Joint Secretary for Health, Lav Aggarwal, told reporters in a press briefing.
The doubling time of #COVID19 cases in India was ~3 - 3.25 days before lockdown, now it is around 10.2 days. This is mainly because of our focus on containment, physical distancing and lockdown measures - @MoHFW_INDIA https://t.co/CQWuvYZ3gx #IndiaFightsCorona— PIB India #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) April 28, 2020
He further clarified that unless ICMR concludes its study and a robust proof is available, plasma therapy should be used only for research or trial purposes. He noted that the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has also viewed plasma therapy as experimentation and has not yet been approved for use.
"If plasma therapy is not done properly based on guidelines, there can be life-threatening complications (to patients). Unless this therapy is approved and its effectiveness proved, it will be inappropriate to make any claim and can be harmful to a patient," the official said.
The Ministry's clarification comes as more and more states look to plasma therapy as a potential way to treat COVID-19 patients. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and several other states are mulling over starting trials for this therapy after encouraging results from patients in Delhi and abroad.
Researchers are testing the use of donated blood as a treatment for people with a severe case of COVID-19. Patients who've recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies to the disease in their blood. Doctors call this convalescent plasma. Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can be given to people with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus.
The Health Ministry informed that 1,543 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the last 24 hours taking the nationwide toll to 29,435. This has been the sharpest rise in cases so far. 684 patients have recovered, in the last 24 hours and the recovery rate is now 23.3%. The Ministry also said there are now 17 districts where no new COVID-19 case has been reported in the last 28 days (2 districts added and 1 district dropped from this list).
The Health Ministry has also issued guidelines for home isolation for very mild/presymptomatic patients which can be availed by those who have a requisite facility for self-isolation at their residence.
Health Ministry issues guidelines for home isolation of people who either have very mild #COVID19 symptoms or are in pre-symptomatic phase— PIB in Maharashtra 🇮🇳 #MaskYourself 😷 (@PIBMumbai) April 27, 2020
Such patients with requisite self-isolation facility at their residence will now have option for home isolation