A government-appointed task force on Covid-19 on Monday removed plasma therapy from the treatment protocol for adult Covid-19 patients. In the revised clinical guidelines for management of adult Covid-19 patients, use of convalescent plasma therapy has been removed even as an ‘off label treatment.
Until now, India’s Covid-19 treatment protocol allowed ‘off label’ use of convalescent plasma therapy but only at the stage of early moderate disease, that is, within seven days of the onset of symptoms, and if there is availability of a high titre donor plasma.
The Covid-19 treatment protocol is prepared in consultation with the Indian Council of Medical Research, AIIMS New Delhi, among others.
In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, plasma therapy became popular as a ‘treatment’ for Covid-19 and something that was thought to be effective in preventing progression of a case from moderate to severe.
The decision to remove it from the guidelines comes in the backdrop of some clinicians and scientists writing to Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan cautioning against the “irrational and non-scientific use” of convalescent plasma for Covid-19 in the country.
In the letter, which was also marked to ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava and AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, public health professionals alleged that the current guidelines on plasma therapy are not based on existing evidence and pointed out some very early evidence that indicates a possible association between emergence of variants with “lower susceptibility to neutralising antibodies in immunosuppressed” people given plasma therapy.