Health Ministry Says No Evidence Yet To Support Use Of Plasma Therapy To Treat COVID-19 Patients

Health Ministry Says No Evidence Yet To Support Use Of Plasma Therapy To Treat COVID-19 PatientsMinistry of Health Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal (Twitter/@COVIDNewsByMIB)

Amid the reports of various states encouraging the treatment of COVID-19 patients through convalescent plasma therapy, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday (28 April) said it was still in experimental stage and there was no evidence yet to support the use of it.

Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, while addressing a press briefing, said there were no approved therapies for the treatment of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He added there was not enough evidence to claim that convalescent plasma therapy could be used for the purpose, The Economic Times reported.

“ICMR has launched a national-level study to study efficacy of plasma therapy in treatment of COVID 19,” he said.

“Till ICMR concludes its study and a robust scientific proof is available, plasma therapy should be used only for research or trial purpose. If plasma therapy is not used in proper manner under proper guidelines, then it can also cause life threatening complications,” said Agarwal.

However, earlier a private Delhi hospital claimed it had treated a 49-year-old man administering convalescent plasma therapy and that he had fully recovered and was discharged on Sunday (26 April).

The man had tested positive on 4 April and was admitted at a hospital in Delhi's Saket area with moderate symptoms and a history of fever and respiratory issues, the same day.

When the patient showed no improvement in his condition, his family requested the hospital for administration of plasma therapy on compassionate grounds, a first of its kind treatment modality that was used for this disease in India.

The family came forward to arrange a donor for extracting plasma. The donor had recovered from the infection three weeks before and again tested COVID-19 negative at the time of donation.

The critically ill patient was administered fresh plasma as a treatment modality as a side-line to standard treatment protocols on the night of 14 April.

After receiving the treatment, the patient showed progressive improvement and by fourth day, was weaned off ventilator support on the morning of 18 April and continued on supplementary oxygen, thereafter.

Speaking on the success of the first case administered under Plasma Therapy, doctor Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director of Max Healthcare and Senior Director of the Institute of Internal Medicine said, "We are delighted that the therapy worked well in his case, opening a new treatment opportunity during these challenging times."

He however added, "But, it is important that we also understand that Plasma Therapy is no magic bullet. We cannot attribute 100 per cent recovery to Plasma Therapy only, as there are multiple factors which carved his path to recovery."

(With inputs from IANS)