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Encouraging results spur Health dept to continue plasma therapy

 GUWAHATI, Sept 11 - The State health department will continue with Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT) in full swing since it has yielded good results not only in the government-run facilities but also in private set-ups in and outside the State.

 In fact, there is a growing demand for plasma in the private hospitals in the State, which have also found it effective when administered on COVID-19 patients at an early stage.

Despite a study done by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), which suggested that the CPT may not reduce COVID death risk, experts in the State as well as outside were unanimous in their opinion that the sample size of the ICMR study was too small, which says very little or nothing about the profile of the patients taken into consideration, which is why it would be wrong to arrive at any conclusion based on the study.

Dr Sashanka Kumar Baruah of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital told The Assam Tribune that nearly 600 COVID-19 patients have been treated with CPT at GMCH so far and 95 per cent of them have recovered, including those with multiple comorbidities.

“As per our protocol at GMCH, we identify patients at risk right at the time of admission and try to give plasma to them within 24 hours or even before that, depending on availability. For us, plasma therapy has worked well and I see no reason why it should be discontinued. As far as the ICMR study is concerned, case selection and profiling could be the determining factor. We should understand that plasma therapy works mostly when it is administered at an early stage before the patient’s condition deteriorates,” Dr Baruah, an expert in plasma therapy attached with Emergency COVID Hospital 2 at the GMCH, said. “Except Barpeta and Diphu, all the medical colleges have plasma banks. From the GMCH plasma bank, 800 plasma samples have been administered, of which 600 were used at GMCH itself,” he said.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Dr Jitumoni Baishya of Max Hospital said that the ICMR conducted tests on 464 patients, and “we do not know the nature and the overall profiling of the respondents.”

“One of the most credible studies done recently by Mayo Clinic in the US and published in the American Journal of Pathology found positive response. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the therapy,” Dr Baishya said.

“In India, too, including Assam, it has shown positive results. It is more effective only when it is given to patients at an early stage,” he said, adding, “Clinically, too, we’ve found good results. Of the 8,000 COVID patients who were treated at the Max hospital so far, 1,500 were administered plasma and they showed positive results.”

Another doctor associated with a private hospital, who did not wish to be named, said that so far plasma therapy appears to be the only way out and it seems to be working fine.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday took to Twitter to appeal to the cured COVID-19 patients to come forward for plasma donation. He also inaugurated a week-long plasma donation drive organised by the Junior Doctors’ Association in association with the National Health Mission (NHM), Assam, at GMCH.

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