Pune hospitals find plasma therapy effective in moderate Covid-19 patients
ICMR study has found that this therapy is not as promising in bringing down the mortality rateUpdated: Oct 26, 2020, 15:27 IST
The study spearheaded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found that convalescent plasma therapy was not found effective in bringing down mortality rate among Covid-19 patients, city doctors, however, feel that the treatment has been found effective in case of patients with moderate symptoms. Doctors feel that the study had to be wider and also such conclusions can deter doctors from prescribing the therapy while donors might also become reluctant to come forward.
After efforts by the administration to create awareness and encourage Covid-19 survivors to come forward to donate their blood for plasma, which had come up as a promising treatment method, the ICMR study has found that this therapy is not as promising in bringing down the mortality rate. Based on this study, the government is now contemplating removing the therapy as a treatment protocol for Covid-19. However, city doctors believe that such a step might just discourage donors to donate their blood.
Currently, the Pune division has 42 blood banks which have been authorised to collect blood samples for the separation of plasma from people who have recovered from Covid-19. These banks are located in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Sangli, Satara, Solapur and Kolhapur. The 42 blood banks have received blood donations from about 2,916 donors who have donated a total of 5,875 units of 200ml of blood of which 5,545 have been distributed as of October 24 and currently, there are just 301 units remaining.
Maximum donors have come forward from Pimpri-Chinchwad. Of 2,916 donors, 669 donated their blood at PCMC’s YCM hospital while Sassoon, the district’s biggest hospital, has received 136 donors. Professor Dr Rohidas Borse, deputy head of medicine department at BJ Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, said, “We have found that plasma treatment is effective in Covid-19 patients showing moderate symptoms. Depending upon the impact of the virus on the patient’s lungs right from mild, moderate or severe, the treatment protocol is decided. Plasma therapy is found to be effective in those suffering from moderate symptoms as of 70 patients who were given this therapy, it was found to be effective in about 30-40 patients.”
Doctors have also said that currently all the treatment protocols for Covid-19 are experimental, including the drugs being prescribed. Dr Sunil Rao, group medical director of Sahyadri Group of Hospitals, said, “The therapy is found to be effective in those suffering from moderate symptoms. We have stopped prescribing it now, but the final call is of the treating doctor. We have our blood bank where we do get requests for the plasma from other hospitals and relatives keep coming for the same. The therapy has no interference with regards to comorbidity or age and works the same if the therapy is started in the initial days of infection or when moderate symptoms start appearing. Also, it is not a very expensive treatment as the price is capped by the government. The ICMR study needs to be on a wider base with more samples and cases being studied.”
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, epidemiologist and chairman, state technical committee on communicable diseases, who heads the committee, said, “The ICMR study has limitations as their sample size is only about 400-500 patients. Such studies need to be carried out on a larger scale and only then can such conclusions be drawn. Plasma therapy is only considered once the tests are considered properly. The therapy is found to be effective in some cases while not in some cases, but then again all the current treatment protocol is only experimental and so it must be left to the wisdom of the treating physician. Also, such statements by an institute like ICMR will only confuse the physicians. Completely ruling out the therapy or treating it as the last stop solution for Covid-19 would be two extremes and so we must keep an open mind and let the clinicians make the decision based on case-to-case situation.”