• Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Coronavirus: India backtracks on plasma therapy

  • Published at 05:03 am April 29th, 2020
Plasma Therapy
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The decision comes days after the Drug Controller-General of India gave its go-ahead to the clinical trial of convalescent plasma therapy in coronavirus patients

The Indian health ministry has said plasma therapy is not an approved treatment for Covid-19 and it is only one of several therapies that they are currently exploring. 

“Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has not given any clearance for its use as a prescribed treatment for Covid-19 and the misuse can have fatal outcome for the patients,” said the ministry on Tuesday, reports The Hindu.

Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said currently there are no approved therapies for Covid-19 and there is not enough evidence to claim that plasma therapy can be used for treating coronavirus patients.

The statement comes days after the Drug Controller-General of India gave its go-ahead to a proposal by the ICMR for the clinical trial of convalescent plasma therapy in coronavirus patients. 

The decision may also come as a blow to the blood transfusion department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) in Bangladesh, which had decided to explore convalescent plasma therapy options to treat Covid-19 patients.

A national technical subcommittee led by Prof M A Khan, head of DMCH’s bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit and department of hematology, disclosed the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Monday.

“If Covid-19 patients, during the early stages of the illness, are treated with plasma therapy then their chances of quick recovery increases."

“It is a passive therapy which may work to improve a patient’s immunity,” said Dr Khan.

Earlier on April 18, Dr Abul Kalam Azad, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), informed the media that they had formed a four-member national technical subcommittee including DMCH’s Prof Khan, Prof Ahmedul Kabir of the department of medicine, Prof Mazharul Haque Tapan of the transfusion medicine department, and Saifullah Munshi, head of virology at  Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) to prepare a protocol for this treatment approach. 

On Monday, the subcommittee submitted the protocol with some recommendations to the DGHS.

Plasma therapy has been successfully used to treat patients of infectious diseases in the past.

In 2014 convalescent plasma, collected from patients who had recovered from Ebola virus disease, was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an empirical treatment during the outbreak. During the H1N1 virus outbreak of 2009 and SARS epidemic of 2003, plasma therapy was used to treat patients.

However, its efficacy in treating patients of Covid-19 remains under the microscope.

Coronavirus has so far infected 3,138,413 people and killed 217,985 people globally.

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