Govt set to start blood plasma trials: Covid-19

The ICMR said that it will submit this protocol to the drug controller and the ethics committee for the trial to begin

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Blood
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MUMBAI: India will soon begin trials to study whether the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 can be used to treat those who are seriously ill. Kerala is preparing to treat some patients using this method after it gets necessary regulatory permissions from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

The convalescent plasma therapy works on the science that the blood of a recovered Covid-19 patient would have created antibodies to help fight the virus in an ill patient. “Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will draft the protocols for the trial of plasma therapy; this should be out in couple of days,” Manoj Murhekar of ICMR told ET.

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The plasma therapy was used to treat patients suffering from other infectious diseases like SARS, the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and H1N1, Murhekar said.

A few studies emerging from China and the US showed Covid-19 patients (15 in all) recovering from the disease. The ICMR said that it will submit this protocol to the drug controller and the ethics committee for the trial to begin. “We are hoping this will be expedited by the drug controller,” said Murhekar.

There is currently no treatment for Covid-19 and the vaccines under test seem at least a year away. However, the plasma treatment seems to be a viable option of treatment in the absence of a vaccine, experts say. Nearly 70% of the Covid-19 patients in India are mild to very mild cases, that is they recover without showing any major symptoms. Health experts say that interventions are needed in moderate to severe cases due to lack of treatment options. Plasma therapy in the US and China worked when used with other interventions like accurate oxygen support, the limited studies showed.