Health Ministry announced plasma therapy not approved for treatment of coronavirus

NEW DELHI: The health ministry on Tuesday came out with a categorical and emphatic warning that it has not approved plasma therapy for treatment of coronavirus and this should be used only for research and trial purposes till there is robust scientific evidence to support its efficacy.
The announcement came as a surprise as some private hospitals have used plasma or immune therapy on patients needing enhanced respiratory support. Delhi’s Max Saket hospital recently claimed success with a middle-aged patient though the method failed to save the person’s father who was much older and in his late 80s.
The Centre’s views indicate that it feels the treatment carries an unacceptable risk and Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said if it is not administered properly, it could be life-threatening. Trials involving plasma therapy will, however, continue with ICMR awaiting more clinical evidence.
The government’s virtual prohibition of plasma therapy as a line of treatment comes at a time when several states feel it might be a promising option. States like Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka have sought permission from ICMR to treat critically-ill Covid-19 patients with this therapy.
“There is no approved therapy for Covid-19 in the country, including plasma therapy. Plasma therapy is being experimented with and there is no evidence to support it as a treatment. It is only at an experimental stage,” Agarwal said.
“ICMR has launched a national-level study to find out the efficacy of plasma therapy in the treatment of Covid-19. 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 a proper manner un der the proper guidelines, then it can also cause lifethreatening complications,” he added.
Worldwide studies are currently under way on various therapies with plasma being one of them. Even the US FDA has approved the use of plasma therapy only for experimental purposes and not for treatment.