Centre drops plasma therapy from COVID-19 treatment guidelines

Centre drops plasma therapy from COVID-19 treatment guidelines

Previous guidelines had allowed "off label" use of plasma therapy at the stage of early moderate disease

The Centre on Monday revised the clinical guidance for COVID-19 treatment, dropping the off-label use of convalescent plasma as it was found not beneficial in reducing the progression to severe disease or death.

The move comes after a meeting of the ICMR-National Task Force for COVID-19 on Friday, when all members were in favour of removing the use of convalescent plasma from the Clinical Guidance for Management of Adult COVID-19 Patients citing its ineffectiveness and inappropriate use in several cases. Plasma therapy on COVID-19 patients has not been found effective in reducing the progression to severe disease or death and is likely to be dropped from the clinical management guidelines.

Previous guidelines had allowed "off label" use of plasma therapy 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.

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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 Balram Bhargava and AIIMS Director 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.

This raises the possibility of more virulent strains developing due to irrational use of plasma therapy which can fuel the pandemic, according to the letter signed by vaccinologist Gagandeep Kang, surgeon Pramesh C.S. and others.

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