According to initial findings the trials at AIIMS, convalescent plasma therapy does not reduce the risk of death due to the infection by the novel coronavirus.
AIIMS has just completed a randomised control trial to assess the efficacy of plasma therapy recently with two groups of 15 Covid-19 patients each.
Plasma therapy involves transfusing plasma retrieved from the blood of someone who has recovered from Covid-19 into a person suffering from the disease.
Plasma donation has a certain limitation as to who can or cannot donate. Only people who weigh over 50 kilograms, women who are nulliparous (have not had children), have healthy haemoglobin levels, do not have pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, uncontrolled blood pressure levels are allowed to donate plasma.
According to Dr Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS, one group received convalescent plasma therapy in addition to the standard treatment while the other one received only the standard treatment. “The number of deaths was equal in both groups,” he said. Dr Guleria added they didn’t find any significant difference in clinical improvement in the two groups either.
“Convalescent plasma is not a magic bullet,” said Dr Monish Soneja, additional professor in the department of medicine at AIIMS.
“Till the time we know the characteristics of the subset of patients, we have to use convalescent plasma therapy very judiciously,” Dr Soneja said, while sharing his experiences on using plasma therapy in Covid-19 patients in a webcast organised by the institute.
Another study, done in the US, by Mayo Clinic has come out with different findings. Preliminary research by Mayo Clinic hows that high-dose plasma therapy is correlated with fewer deaths in patients with severe COVID-19.
A 10 percentage point difference in deaths was found when comparing hospitalized COVID-19 patients who received donor plasma with high concentrations of virus-fighting antibodies compared with those who received lower concentrations, Mayo reported.
“I’m just grateful as an American and a doctor that we are seeing some potential benefit, because our patients and our country need some help with COVID,” said Dr. R. Scott Wright, who is coordinating Mayo’s national COVID-19 convalescent plasma program.
Mayo launched the program with support from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this spring to provide plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 as an experimental therapy at smaller or nonacademic hospitals that otherwise wouldn’t have access to it.
In India, the Centre constantly maintains that convalescent plasma therapy remains experimental and is not advised as a routine line of treatment. As things stand, the government only recommends it for patients with a moderate form of the disease.