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Opinion

Indiscriminate use is not advisable: ICMR’s advice for plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients

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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Wednesday that the indiscriminate use of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was not advisable, even as the number of infections across the country surpassed the 8.9 million mark.

The main medical body carried out a phase II multicenter randomized controlled trial (PLACID trial) in the country in 39 public and private hospitals on the use of CPT in the treatment of cases with moderate Covid-19 infection. The therapy involves the use of plasma from people who have recovered from the infection to help the immune response of those still fighting it.

The study has concluded that the therapy “did not lead to a reduction in progression to severe Covid-19 or all-cause mortality in the group that received CPT compared to the group that did not receive CPT,” ICMR said.

PLACID is the world’s largest pragmatic trial on CPT conducted in 464 Covid-19 affected adults with confirmed moderate disease in a real-world setting in which no benefit from using CPT could be established, the leading medical body added.

The ICMR statement comes at a time when there are 8,912,907 confirmed cases of the viral infection. Of these, 446,805 are active cases, 8,335,109 have recovered and 130,993 deaths have been registered from the viral disease.

Prior to this, doctors from the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi had also advised against the overuse of experimental therapies. Dr. Manish Soneja, an additional professor in the AIIMS department of medicine, had said that randomized controlled trials showed no benefit from the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, or convalescent plasma therapy.

A similar study by ICMR, published in October in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal, also found no benefit of convalescent plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients. It found that the results were almost the same for the two groups: 235 who received two doses of convalescent plasma and 229 who received standard care. The therapy did not prevent progression to serious disease, he said.

According to ICMR, similar studies conducted in China and the Netherlands have also failed to document any significant benefit of CPT for improving clinical outcomes for hospitalized patients with Covid-19.

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