Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Although it is unclear whether plasma therapy is moderately helping patients with severe Covid-19 disease, the Center does not appear to be sure whether it will allow hospitals to use it sparingly and is sending contradictory signals. Just two days before allowing therapy as an investigative treatment, even outside clinical trials, a guideline document on blood transfusion issued on June 25 had warned against the use of plasma therapy as a routine treatment.
The guidelines made public Tuesday clearly said the effectiveness of plasma convulsive therapy for Covid-19 is being assessed through clinical trials and has not yet been established. Therefore it should not be used for routine treatment.
“The use of sedative plasma for routine treatment of Covid-19 patients is not currently recommended,” the guidelines of the National Blood Transfusion Council under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare state. Systems need to be in place to enable the return of cured Covid-19 patients as plasma donors for the treatment of Covid patients, he added.
In contrast, on June 27, in the revised infectious disease treatment protocol, the ministry approved the external use of convulsive plasma, saying that “it can be considered in patients with moderate disease who are not improving (oxygen demand is increasing progressively) despite steroid use ”. The protocol had mentioned special preconditions as it considered conventional plasma that includes ABO compliance, monitoring recipients after transfusion among others. In late April, the ministry and ICMR had warned against indiscriminate use of plasma therapy.
Questions sent to senior ministry officials, including Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, seeking clarification on the government’s view of plasma therapy have gone unanswered, but the ministry’s conflicting stance on the issue has left patient rights groups confused. . Although it is an therapy with no proven efficacy so far, hospitals – mostly private – are charging patients too much for it.
In Delhi, for example, a large corporate hospital has billed infected patients 11,000 Rs per transfusion cycle even though it is the families of patients who need to organize donors. Clinical trials of plasma therapy for Covid-19 are in various hospitals across the country, but so far no final results have been achieved. A small clinical trial conducted by Wuhan in China had shown that among patients with severe or life-threatening Covid-19, convulsive plasma added to standard treatment when compared to the non-intervention group showed marginal improvement within 28 days .
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