The Union Health Ministry on Monday removed the convalescent plasma therapy from the country’s clinical Covid-19 management guidelines. The therapy was found to be ineffective in reducing the progression to severe disease or death, hence this move has been brought up.
In a meeting of the ICMR-National Task Force for COVID-19 on Friday, all members agreed for removing the use of convalescent plasma from the Clinical Guidance for Management of Adult COVID-19 Patients because of its ineffectiveness and inappropriate use in several cases.
According to the guidelines the use of plasma therapy at allowed “off label” at the stage of early moderate disease, that is within seven days of the onset of symptoms and if there is any accessibility of a high titre donor plasma.
The decision to remove it from the guidelines comes in the backdrop of some clinicians and scientists writing to Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan cautioning against the “irrational and non-scientific use” of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 in the country.
AIIMS/ICMR-COVID-19 National Task Force/Joint Monitoring Group, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India revised Clinical Guidance for Management of Adult #COVID19 Patients and dropped Convalescent plasma (Off label). pic.twitter.com/Dg1PG5bxGb
— ANI (@ANI) May 17, 2021
However, several top medical experts have welcomed the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s updated advisory released on Monday dropping the use of convalescent plasma from recommended treatment protocols for COVID-19 in adults.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital chairman Dr. DS Rana said plasma therapy has failed to change the “course of mortality” and stated that some scientists are also of the view that it is helping in promoting mutations and variants.
“I think it is wise that plasma therapy has been taken off the list because over a period of one year it has failed to change the course of mortality. Every step taken should absolutely be based on the evidence. Some scientists are also of the view that this is helping in promoting mutations and variants,” he added.
With a massive increase in the Covid-19 cases across the country that has increased the unprecedented the demand for plasma which many experts believe to have done more harm than good.
Dr Sheeba Marwah, Assistant Professor and COVID-19 Nodal Officer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital said: “The current research being done globally using convalescent plasma of patients recovered from COVID-19 for treatment of new COVID-19 patients have not yielded any efficacious results when it comes to modifying the disease course or thwarting its progression to severe disease and averting mortality. Even the ICMR’s PLACID Trial concluded convalescent plasma therapy to be non-beneficial.”
Marwah stated that on the contrary, “possibilities of more virulent strains having surfaced due to its irrational use are very much there, so it’s a good decision to remove it from the national protocol.”
Earlier, as per the ICMR advisory on April 22, Convalescent plasma (Off label) was considered only when the following criteria were met: Early moderate disease (preferably within 7 days of symptom onset, no use after 7 days) and Availability of high titre donor plasma (Signal to the cut-off ratio (S/O) >3.5 or equivalent depending on the test kit being used).