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COVID-19 treatment | ICMR to review use of plasma therapy, may issue new guidelines

"We will deliberate on plasma therapy," Balram Bhargava, director general, ICMR told The Economic Times.

May 12, 2021 / 10:13 AM IST
The ICMR's study, conducted on 464 COVID-19 patients at 39 trial centres, did not find that plasma therapy reduces mortality rate.

The ICMR's study, conducted on 464 COVID-19 patients at 39 trial centres, did not find that plasma therapy reduces mortality rate.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will review the use of convalescent plasma therapy in COVID-19 treatment.

The ICMR is likely to meet on May 12, and might even issue new guidelines on use of plasma therapy, The Economic Times reported.

"We will deliberate on plasma therapy," Balram Bhargava, Director-General of the ICMR, told the publication.

Follow our LIVE blog for updates on the COVID-19 pandemic

Amid the deadly second wave of COVID-19 cases in India, social media has been flooded with requests for plasma, medical oxygen and hospital beds.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Plasma is a component of blood that contains antibodies. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate plasma after a certain time period.

Plasma therapy is currently permitted "off-label" at the stage of early moderate disease, preferably within seven days of the onset of symptoms and only on availability of high titre donor plasma.

Several clinicians and public health professionals had earlier this week expressed concern over the "irrational and non-scientific" use of plasma in treating COVID-19 patients.

The experts expressed their views in an open letter to the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, Dr VijayRaghavan, the ICMR and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

In the letter, the clinicians and public health professionals cited three studies - the ICMR-PLACID Trial, the Recovery Trial conducted by the University of Oxford and Argentina's PlasmAr Trial - to show that existing guidelines on plasma therapy are not based on existing evidence.

The ICMR's study, conducted on 464 COVID-19 patients at 39 trial centres, did not find that plasma therapy reduces mortality rate.

"Convalescent plasma was not associated with a reduction in progression to severe covid-19 or all cause mortality. This trial has high generalisability and approximates convalescent plasma use in real life settings with limited laboratory capacity," the study said.
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 12, 2021 10:13 am

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