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

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

The top medical body conducted an open-label phase II multicentre randomised controlled trial (PLACID trial) in the country across 39 public and private hospitals on the use of CPT in the management of cases with moderate Covid-19 infection. The therapy involves the use of plasma from people who have recovered from the infection to aid 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 as compared to the group that did not receive CPT”, ICMR said.

PLACID is the world’s largest pragmatic trial on CPT conducted in 464 moderately ill confirmed Covid-19 affected adults in a real-world setting wherein no benefit of use of CPT could be established, the top medical body added.

ICMR’s statement comes at a time when there are 8,912,907 confirmed cases of the viral infection. Of them 446,805 are active cases, 8,335,109 have recovered and 130,993 fatalities have been recorded due to the viral disease.

Before this, doctors at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had also advised against the overuse of experimental therapies. Dr Manish Soneja, an additional professor from AIIMS’ department of medicine, had said that randomised control trials did not show benefits of anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, or convalescent plasma therapy.

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

According to ICMR, similar studies conducted in China and the Netherlands have also documented no significant benefit of CPT in improving the clinical outcomes of hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

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