India may drop plasma therapy to treat Covid

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 21, 2020

With plasma therapy proving ineffective in halting Covid-19 progression and reducing mortality, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) may suggest that it be dropped from the national guidelines for treatment of the novel coronavirus.

“India carried out one of the biggest trials of plasma therapy and it has been accepted in the British Medical Journal. In the light of the trials, we have had discussions in the National Task Force (NTF). Further, we are taking it up with the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) — it may be deleted from the national guidelines,” said Balram Bhargava, ICMR Director-General, at a briefing on Tuesday.


Plasma convalescent therapy uses the plasma of a recovered patient to treat another active patient, as it contains antibodies that can fight the virus.

Remedesvir and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) did not perform to expectation in the Solidarity trials carried out in 30 nations including India, said Bhargava. These, too, are being discussed at NTF and JMG meetings, he added.

Sought-after treatment

Several State government hospitals and private centres have gone for plasma therapy in a big way in the fight against Covid. Delhi, for instance, has three plasma banks. The Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences here had issued over 3,000 units to patients till about a week ago.


The Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi was among the first to promote plasma therapy, saying it is critical till a vaccine is found. “We are not claiming 100 per cent of lives will be saved through plasma therapy, but it has been effective in treating people until now. Plasma has also played an important role in the declining death rate in Delhi,” he was quoted as saying.

ID for vaccine

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, also present at Tuesday’s briefing, clarified that the national health ID, being planned as part of the National Digital Health Mission, would not be mandatory for receiving Covid-19 vaccination.

Just as multiple recognised IDs are allowed for voting, other IDs could be valid for receiving the vaccine, he said.

The Centre expects adequate quantities of Covid-19 vaccine to be available between January and July to cover ‘priority’ recipients such as healthcare workers, he added.

Bhushan said the Health Ministry has studied the mathematical modelling study released by researchers including those from the IITs and CMC-Vellore, which said there is a possibility of the pandemic ending in February, but said the infection could flare up unless Covid-appropriate behaviour was followed by people.

Published on October 20, 2020

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