21 hospitals across India cleared for stage-2 of plasma therapy, most in worst-hit Maharashtra

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHindustantimes.com | Abhinav Sahay
May 08, 2020 05:31 PM IST

Plasma therapy is one among a few treatments that have shown promise in fighting coronavirus cases.

21 hospitals across the country have been given permission to conduct stage 2 trials to assess the safety & efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy, which has shown some promise in treating moderate to severe cases of coronavirus infection across the world.

The blood of the donor can be used for therapeutic plasma for the treatment of seriously ill patients during the clinical trials.(REUTERS Photo)
The blood of the donor can be used for therapeutic plasma for the treatment of seriously ill patients during the clinical trials.(REUTERS Photo)

Several Indian hospitals are already conducting the first phase of trials as per the guidelines of ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research).

“Project PLACID - Phase-II Open-Label Randomised Controlled Trial of convalescent plasma by ICMR has received the approval of Covid-19 National Ethics Committee. Under this, ICMR will conduct the trial in 21 hospitals, to assess safety & efficacy of convalescent plasma,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry.

Agarwal said five of these hospitals were in Maharashtra, four in Gujarat, two each in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and one each in Punjab, Karnataka, Telangana and Chandigarh.

Convalescent plasma therapy involves taking antibodies from cured Covid-19 patients and injecting them in the blood of sick patients suffering from coronavirus. The transfusion of plasma is carried out through a machine which separates the plasma from the blood which is then retransferred into the donor. The plasmas thus obtained is injected into a sick coronavirus patient. A donor supplies 300-500 ml of plasma and the transfusion process takes between 60-90 minutes.

An antibody is a passive vaccine which assists in bringing down the viral load thus controlling the infection.

The Union health ministry had advised against considering plasma therapy to be an approved treatment for coronavirus and added it should only be used for research and trial purposes to check its efficacy. If used indiscriminately, the therapy could lead to life-threatening complications.

Experts have opined that large scale use of Plasma therapy is limited by the availability of the volume of plasma and the challenge of its careful screening for the presence of other infections that if unwittingly transferred to the recipient, can lead to complications.

Two coronavirus patients were given convalescent plasma therapy at the SMS hospital in Jaipur a couple of days ago and doctors said they showed improvement. They also said that it was important to understand at what stage a patient requires plasma therapy.

In Mumbai, however, Maharashtra’s first novel coronavirus patient to undergo the clinical trial for plasma therapy died last month.

The HT Guide to Coronavirus COVID-19

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