ICMR against indiscriminate use of plasma therapy lays down treatment criteria

New Delhi

Over two months after its own study showed that plasma therapy may not be effective against Covid-19, the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has now specified strict criteria for its use in patients suffering from the disease in the latest advisory.

Suggesting against its indiscriminate use, the research body, however, has opted against putting a blanket ban on the therapy.

“Benefits of convalescent plasma therapy in improving the clinical outcomes, reducing the severity of the disease, duration of hospitalization and mortality in Covid-19 patients are dependent on the concentration of specific antibodies in convalescent plasma that could neutralize the effects of SARS-CoV-2,” said the agency leading India’s response to the pandemic.

In its “Evidence-Based Advisory to address Inappropriate Use of Convalescent Plasma in Covid-19 Patients”, the apex health research body said that it is speculated that convalescent plasma having a low concentration of specific antibody against SARS-CoV-2 may be less beneficial for treating Covid-19 patients as compared to plasma with a high concentration of such antibodies.

This advisory issued on Tuesday says that a potential donor for convalescent plasma should have a sufficient concentration of antibody working against Covid 19 which is IgG antibody titre of 1:640 (ELISA) or 13 AU absorbance unit per cubic ml or neutralising antibody titres of 1:80.

The agency has also insisted that the presence of antibody against Covid-19 in a potential recipient makes transfusing convalescent plasma a futile intervention and highlighted that plasma be given 3-7 days from onset of symptoms, but no later than 10 days.

In September results from the PLACID trial in 39 hospitals, by the ICMR to assess the effectiveness of plasma therapy for Covid-19 had shown that it does not benefit either in reducing mortality or arresting the progression of the disease.

“PLACID is the world’s largest pragmatic trial on CPT conducted in 464 moderately ill laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 affected adults in a real-world setting wherein no benefit of use of CPT could be established,” said the new advisory.

Similar studies conducted in China and the Netherlands have also documented no significant benefit of CPT in improving the clinical outcomes of hospitalised coronavirus patients, it added.

Despite the results shown by the ICMR trial, the use of plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients throughout the country has continued unabated.

A few days back, while taking a meeting on Covid-19 situation in the capital, Union home minister Amit Shah had directed the health ministry officials to refine the guidelines on the usage of plasma therapy, sources said.

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