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Plasma Therapy Not Effective, Likely to Be Dropped from Clinical Management Guidelines on Covid-19

Some studies have shown that convalescent plasma is effective only when the treatment is received early in the infection cycle. (Representative photo/Shutterstock)

Some studies have shown that convalescent plasma is effective only when the treatment is received early in the infection cycle. (Representative photo/Shutterstock)

Experts have written to the government, saying the therapy is not effective and its irrational use 'raises the possibility of more virulent strains' of Sars-Cov-2.

Plasma Therapy could be dropped from clinical management protocol as ICMR’s expert panel found that the therapy wasn’t beneficial in reducing the progression to severe disease or death of COVID-19 patients, sources told CNN-News18. The members observed that the information and evidence on convalescent plasma​ was not found to be supportive, sources added.

The Indian Council of Medical Research is expected to issue an advisory on the same in the next few days.

India’s national task force on COVID-19 management met on Friday, May 14, to review the convalescent plasma therapy for patients infected by the Sars-Cov-2 virus. Top experts looked into the evidence profile and examined it.

The present guidelines allow “off label" use of plasma therapy at the stage of early moderate disease, that is, within seven days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and if there is availability of a high-titre donor plasma.

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The development comes in the backdrop of concerns over the use of the treatment and doubts over its efficacy raised by top scientist and public health experts.

A group of 18 clinicians, scientists and public health professionals had recently written to the government, saying the “irrational use” of plasma therapy “raises the possibility of more virulent strains” of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Convalescent plasma is part of ICMR’s clinical management protocol that is in place during the pandemic. In a document dated November 17, 2020, ICMR said the therapy “has been tried in the past for treatment of viral infections” such as swine flu, Ebola and Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The body, however, advised against its indiscriminate use, and detailed certain criteria for the treatment.

In their letter, the experts cited three studies — the ICMR-PLACID Trial, the Recovery Trial conducted by the University of Oxford, and Argentina’s PlasmAr Trial — to argue that the country’s existing guidelines on plasma therapy were not based on evidence.

With the onset of a brutal second wave of COVID-19 that has sent India’s infection count soaring and put a huge stress on the country’s healthcare system, the demand for plasma has shot up with relatives of patients asked to undergo the therapy trying all means possible to get a donor. This move could prove to help the current situation.

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