12 May, 2020
10 Min Read
ICMR's clearance on using convalescent plasma therapy
The U.S. FDA and India’s ICMR have approved the use of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients only for trial purposes.
With the ethics committee approval in hand on May 8, the ICMR cleared the last hurdle to conduct a multicentric phase-2 trial using convalescent plasma on COVID-19 patients with moderate illness.
Phase 2 trial- to check the efficacy of Plasma therapy
Convalescent plasma therapy
Convalescent plasma therapy, about a century old, has shown some benefit in treating measles, chickenpox and rabies.
Small studies have shown faster clearance of virus in the case of MERS and SARS if given early in the course of the disease .
Issues in Convalescent plasma therapy
Even in the absence of any effective treatment or a vaccine, the pandemic provides an opportunity to ascertain the clinical benefits of plasma therapy through randomised controlled trials.
The ICMR’s insistence on an evidence-based approach to plasma therapy is in contrast to the cavalier manner in which it approved the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, as a prophylaxis(treatment given or action taken to prevent disease) for coronavirus without carrying out any trial and relying on evidence that was slim and intended only for treatment, and also when the risks were unknown.
If the trial outcomes are overwhelmingly positive, the agency would be ethically obliged to recommend plasma therapy as a standard of care for COVID-19 patients.
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