Asymptomatic patients pose challenge at clinical trial of plasma therapy at PGI

Dept head says those patients who do not develop fever during COVID-19 illness, do not respond to the infection

Asymptomatic patients pose challenge at clinical trial of plasma therapy at PGI

Naina Mishra

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30

Even after three weeks of the beginning of the clinical trial of convalescent plasma use in critically-sick COVID-19 patients at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research and Education (PGIMER), there have been only five donors of plasma as majority of the tricity patients are asymptomatic and not fit for donation.

Prof Ratti Ram Sharma, head, Department of Transfusion Medicine, PGIMER, said: “Many recovered patients haven’t qualified for the criteria laid down by the ICMR for plasma therapy. The donors of plasma should have both cough and fever as symptoms during the COVID-19 illness. A majority of patients in the tricity are asymptomatic. We have tried to contact Mohali and Jawaharpur patients as well but they were asymptomatic as well.”

Explaining the rationale behind choosing only symptomatic patients, Prof RR Sharma explains: “Those patients who did not develop fever during COVID-19 illness, also did not respond to the infection. There are bleak chances of an anti-body being developed in asymptomatic patients. Fever is taken as a marker of the response in the body. If there is no fever, there is no point taking the plasma from the donor. The degree of response correlates with the degree of the anti-body response.”

The plasma therapy is aimed at assessing the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit complications in COVID-19 patients. The critically-ill COVID-19 positive patients admitted in the Nehru Hospital Extension Block will be eligible to get this form of treatment.

In this trial, antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are used to treat severely infected patients. However, the exact role of this therapy in the treatment of COVID-19 positive patients is still debatable and hence, the ICMR decided to conduct a multicentric study to clarify its role in these patients.

The collaborative departments for this trial are Departments of Internal Medicine, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Transfusion Medicine, Endocrinology, Virology and community Medicine. The team of doctors from Dept of Transfusion Medicine are getting in touch with patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infection and would explain the nature of the study.

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