Covid-19: Kerala institute ready for plasma trials, but has no patients to test

New Delhi: Kerala’s Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, the first to get all approvals to start clinical testing of convalescent plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients, may not get an immediate opportunity to begin trials because the state no longer has critically ill cases — the main requirement to test the efficacy of the treatment.

The Thiruvananthapuram-based institute, which is an institute of national importance under the Department of Science and Technology, received the clearances from the Indian Council of Medical Research a week ago to conduct clinical trials for plasma therapy, which uses antibodies from the blood of cured patients to treat others.

“We are ready to conduct clinical trials, but the state government’s health department has to take a call,” director Asha Kishore told ET. “At present, the number of cases has declined and there are no critically ill patients in Kerala.”

The state, which had reported India’s first coronavirus case, has been registering single-digit increase in cases for the past five days. On Wednesday, only one case was reported and on Thursday there were seven new cases. Since all protocols have been finalised by the institute, there is a possibility of another state government being handheld for the clinical trials, which are expected to take a maximum of one month.

The therapy involves drawing out whole blood from a patient who has recovered from Covid-19 at least two weeks after testing negative for the disease. The plasma is separated and 400 ml of plasma can be used to treat two patients. The therapy uses the antibodies generated from the recovered patient to treat others suffering from the illness.

Though there is an element of uncertainty over how good the antibodies are, epidemiology experts said this can be addressed with antibody testing kits. India received about half a million antibody test kits on Thursday.

While Kerala has not started clinical trials, other states are likely to get the go-ahead. Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu — still struggling with a high number of patients — are set to start clinical trials for plasma therapy.

ET had first reported in its edition on April 16 that Max Healthcare, Saket, in New Delhi had carried out the first case of plasma therapy on a patient.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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