Plasma puzzle
THE WEEK|September 20, 2020
Plasma puzzle
The popularity of plasma therapy to treat Covid-19, despite lack of evidence of its efficacy, has experts worried
NAMITA KOHLI

IT IS A CENTURY-old way of treating viral diseases. In Covid-19, though, the use of antibody-rich convalescent plasma (CP), has been controversial given the lack of strong evidence.

“Ours is the world’s largest trial [of its kind] on plasma therapy,” Dr Balram Bhargava, director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said in response to THE WEEK’s query on the plasma therapy (PLACID) trial. “The trial has been conducted on 464 patients, where 235 patients with moderate Covid-19 disease were given plasma, the rest were given best standard care. This was done in 39 hospitals across India, and we looked at whether it led to severe disease or death over 28 days.” The results of the open label, randomised controlled trial (RCT) published as a pre-print (peer-review pending) suggest that there was no difference in 28-day mortality or progression to severe disease among those studied.

“The study also indicates that the key point here is the high titre [levels] of neutralising antibodies for it to work, if at all,” said professor Sunit K. Singh, head, molecular biology, Banaras Hindu University. “Besides, we have to be sure that the donor does not have any viral RNA in their blood.”

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September 20, 2020