Telangana has started the screening of patients who can be put under the plasma therapy clinical trial. Dr Raja Rao, Medical Superintendent, Gandhi Hospital, has confirmed that the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has granted them permission to conduct a clinical trial of plasma therapy on critically ill patients.
“It will be done only on those COVID-19 positive patients whose condition will deteriorate further,” Rao confirmed adding that it will not be used as a treatment but only as a clinical trial.
Under the therapy, plasma is extracted from the blood of a recovered COVID-19 patient and injected in the critically-ill patient. “The consent of both the patient and the donor is mandatory,” Rao said.
Telangana has over 1,000 COVI-19 positive patients out of which one is on the ventilator support and four are on oxygen support.
A senior health official from the state health department of Jharkhand also confirmed that Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi too has ICMR’s consent to conduct the plasma therapy trial. However, the state doesn’t have any critical patients as of now.
“There are only 83 COVID-19 positive patients and none of them is in the critical condition,” the official informed.
The ICMR has also invited on its website a letter of intent “from institutions with the equipment and infrastructure available to participate in a clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of therapeutic plasma exchange in COVID-19 patients, subsequent to necessary approvals and clearances.”
It is not known as of now how many institutes in other states have expressed interest for the trail and got permission for the same.
In a press release, issued on March 28, ICMR clarified that currently there are no approved therapies for COVID-19 including plasma therapy.
“It is one of the many therapies which are being experimented with. However, so far there is no evidence to support it as a treatment,” the release said.
The release said that that the ICMR has also started a national study to evaluate the efficacy of the therapy. It has also cautioned the use of plasma therapy may have life-threatening complications.