Govt mulls excluding plasma therapy from national COVID-19 guidelines

A study has shown that plasma therapy has not been effective in reducing mortality rate in COVID-19 patients.
Health workers in PPE
Health workers in PPE
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The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday stated that it is mulling excluding convalescent plasma therapy from its guidelines on COVID-19 treatment after its study found that the procedure has not been effective in reducing the mortality rate in patients. Responding to a question on hospitals mandating plasma and citizens having to run from pillar to post to arrange for the same, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research stated that discussions are underway on the possibility of the advisory being deleted altogether. 

“India has conducted the largest plasma therapy study on 464 patients in 39 hospitals. This paper was accepted in the British Medical Journal and will appear soon as a full paper of more than 10 pages on the role of plasma in COVID-19. We have had discussions with the national task force and are discussing further for this to be deleted from the national guidelines. That is the ongoing discussion and we are reaching that conclusion,” he said.

The study in question was conducted between April 22 and July 14, and showed that though the use of convalescent plasma seemed to improve the resolution of shortness of breath and fatigue, this did not translate into the reduction in 28-day mortality or progression to severe disease in moderate COVID-19 patients. 

In response to a separate question, the ICMR DG added that since studies have indicated that antibodies reduce in COVID-19 patients after some months, they become vulnerable to an infection again.

“After coronavirus infection, antibodies develop in the body. There are many studies on how long they will last in the body; some say sour months and some say five months. If they last for five months and the antibodies reduce after that, then there is a possibility of reinfection. That is why it is important to wear a mask and take precautions even if one was infected earlier,” said Balram Bhargava.

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus infections reported daily in India dropped below 50,000 nearly after three months, taking India's COVID-19 caseload to 75,97,063, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday. A total of 46,790 fresh infections were reported in a day, while the death toll climbed to 1,15,197 with 587 fatalities being registered in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed. 

The number of new fatalities reported across the country was below 600 for the second consecutive day. The active cases of coronavirus infection remained below 8 lakh for the fourth consecutive day. There are 7,48,538, active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which is 9.85% of the total cases reported till date.

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