Haryana will administer convalescent plasma therapy to select patients infected with the coronavirus disease(Covid-19) at all its state-run medical colleges, as part of the ongoing nationwide trial by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Medical colleges in five districts — Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Sonipat, and Nuh—are expected to start giving plasma therapy within a week, while other medical institutions such as SGT Medical College in Gurugram, and ESIC in Faridabad, are expected to follow suit soon after, officials said.
State health minister Anil Vij took to the microblogging site Twitter on Monday and announced, “Haryana to start Plasma Therapy for treatment of Covid-19 patients in all its medical colleges after approval from ICMR.”
The health minister’s statement comes on a day when the Covid-19 cases in the state touched 14,210 cases and total 232 deaths.
The first patient from Haryana to be administered the convalescent plasma therapy, as part of the ICMR’s trial at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, recovered earlier this month on June 12. The patient, a resident of Kurukshetra, had recovered from the deadly disease despite having severe pneumonia and requiring oxygen therapy.
“This is a positive step. More and more testimonies about the effectiveness of plasma therapy are coming from all over India. Private hospitals registering trial patients have also seen some successes, this will make the treatment accessible to more people,” Dr Ram Prakash, district epidemiologist, Gurugram, said.
Convalescent plasma therapy involves injecting antibody-rich plasma from recovered patients into recovering individuals to help them fight the infection.
While at least one private hospital in Gurugram is offering plasma therapy as a mode of treatment, as part of the trial by ICMR (the apex medical body in the county), the treatment hasn’t started in many hospitals. Dr Prakash added that widespread use of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19 in Haryana was still a few weeks away, given that the ICMR’s trial results are only expected after at least a month.
For now, only trial patients at state medical colleges — including SGT Gurugram and ESIC Faridabad— will have the option available of availing the therapy, Prakash clarified. The number of medical colleges across Haryana that will partake in the ICMR trial is unclear so far. The additional chief secretary (health), Rajeev Arora, on Monday did not answer calls and messages seeking comment.
Dr Dhruv Chaudhury, nodal officer for Covid-19 monitoring in Haryana and head of the department of pulmonary and critical care at PGIMS Rohtak, where plasma trials are expected to commence this week, said, “Rohtak, along with four other districts, is preparing a list of suitable patients who have recovered and can donate their plasma. The treatment, as per ICMR guidelines, can be used for patients at a moderate to severe stage of the infection. We will initially be using it to help patients who are not responding to ventilator support.”
It has previously been used during the Sars and Mers outbreaks (which were also caused by viruses from the same family as Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19). Plasma is a major component of a person’s blood, making up almost 55% of it.