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State may have to rethink its COVID policy

By Staff Reporter & Agencies

GUWAHATI, Sept 9 - A multi-centric study funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research has found that use of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) in COVID-19 infected patients does not help in reducing mortality or progression to severe condition.

The study is likely to prompt the State Health Department to revisit its plasma therapy policy, which it has been aggressively pursuing for more than a month now. In fact, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been claiming that the therapy is giving �good results� in the State. The Health Department has claimed that nearly 1000 moderate to severe COVID-19 patients have been benefited by CPT in the State so far.

The ICMR study trial included 464 moderately ill coronavirus infected hospitalised patients, of whom 235 were given convalescent plasma along with best of standard care while 229 received only standard care, as per the study.

The �open-label parallel-arm phase II multicentre randomized controlled trial� (PLACID Trial) was conducted across 39 public and private hospitals across India between April 22 and July 14 to find effectiveness of convalescent plasma (CP) for the treatment of COVID-19, the ICMR said.

The ICMR study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, has appeared on medRxiv, a preprint server. The National Task Force for COVID-19, a committee formed by the ICMR to respond to the pandemic, has reviewed and approved this study.

Plasma therapy involves taking antibodies from the blood of a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfusing those into an active coronavirus patient to help kick-start the immune system to fight the infection.

The Health Department launched a campaign seeking plasma and so far 1271 people have evinced interest and 751 have registered, according to NHM statistics as on Tuesday.

After initial screening, 1073 willing people were called for donation at GMCH out of which 527 were able to donate.

Plasma banks are also functional at AMCH (43 donors have given till date), JMCH (55 donors have given), TMCH (47) and Silchar (92).

Till yesterday, 764 cured patients have donated their plasma.

The State government has also launched a nationwide campaign seeking plasma, and donors may get preference in government jobs and schemes, if Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma�s announcements are implemented.

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