New Delhi: Convalescent plasma therapy may be removed from the national guideline on treatment of coronavirus, chief of India’s top medical research body ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava said at a Health Ministry briefing today.
“We have had discussions it (use of plasma therapy) at the national taskforce-level… more or less we are reaching towards that,” ICMR Director General Dr Balram said in response to a question on continued use of plasma therapy (CPT) despite an ICMR trial showing it does not reduce mortality or slow the progression of COVID-19.
“The world’s largest trial on plasma therapy was done in India on 464 patients in 39 hospitals with more than 350 authors. This paper has been accepted for inclusion in the British Medical Journal and it will soon appear as a full paper on the role of plasma therapy on COVID-19,” he said.
Reiterating that there was no scope of “letting our guard down” even though the coronavirus peak has passed in India and Covid may “almost end by February”, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said “experts have said cases will spike again if precautions are not followed”.
“All precautions should continue even when we have a vaccine”, Dr Balram said indicating that the fight against COVID-19 would have to be fought for a long time even after India starts inoculating its 1.3 billion-strong population.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had recently said India would have a coronavirus vaccine early next year, and there were several front-runners.
“We have come up with a Draft Prioritisation Programme (for vaccination)…tried to match numbers under it to the number of doses that would become available from tentatively January to July. If present trials proceed according to plan then the number of doses will be sufficient to immunize those on priority list,” the Health Secretary Bhushan said.
He added that it will not be mandatory to “have a digital health ID” to get inoculated, a day after PM Narendra Modi said such IDs would be given to all citizens.
“Our current National Digital Health Mission does not have digital IDs for everyone. Multiple types of IDs will be valid for getting vaccinated,” he said.
Questioned about efforts to contain Covid in Bihar, where huge political rallies are being held Bihar without social distancing in contravention of government rules, Mr Bhushan said it was a “political matter”.
“We are regularly sending central teams. They will monitor the situation and ensure that infection does not spread and (Covid safety) rules are followed,” he said.
Mr Bhushan further shared data on the increase in number of ICU and ventilator beds since April. While ICU beds in India increased from 23,815 to 77,316, ventilator beds increased from 11,993 to 39,527.