Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, on Wednesday, asserted that over 2,000 COVID-19 patients in the national capital have benefitted from plasma therapy which also saved his life, a day after a top ICMR official indicated that the Centre was considering removing it from the clinical management protocol.
At a press conference, Jain also said these patients received convalescent plasma through the dedicated plasma banks of the city government, besides other people getting it directly from donors.
The first plasma bank was opened on July 2 by Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal at the state-run Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS) in south Delhi. After that another bank was opened at LNJP Hospital, a dedicated coronavirus facility.
"We have been doing it (plasma therapy) trials after getting due permission. The ICMR-AIIMS study has not shown much breakthrough. But people are getting benefitted from it here, and over 2,000 have benefitted by receiving plasma from the dedicated bank only," Jain said, when asked about the Centre considering removing it from COVID-19 clinical management protocol.
The Delhi health minister, himself a COVID-19 survivor, asserted that "this has helped save my life too".
The health minister had tested positive for COVID-19 in June and was hospitalised. He was later administered plasma therapy at a leading private hospital in New Delhi, following which he had recovered and later also urged others to donate plasma.
"Even America has acknowledged its benefit. And, research is going on it world over. Delhi in a way is a pioneer in it and plasma therapy benefits have been seen. You should go and ask family members of those patients who were administered the plasma therapy," he said.
The Centre is considering to remove convalescent plasma therapy from the national clinical management protocol for COVID-19, a top ICMR official had said on Tuesday.
Presently, the use of off-label convalescent plasma for treating COVID-19 patients in the moderate stage of the illness is allowed under "investigational therapies".
However, a randomised controlled trial, led by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on 464 patients in 39 hospitals in 25 districts across 14 states and union territories has shown that plasma therapy does not reduce mortality or prevent progression of COVID-19 from moderate to severe.
At a press conference on Tuesday, ICMR Director General Balaram Bhargava said, "We have had discussions in the national taskforce and we are in discussion with the joint monitoring group that this (convalescent plasma therapy) may be deleted from the national guidelines. The discussion is ongoing and more or less we are reaching towards that."
The national capital recorded 41 COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 6,081, while 3,579 fresh cases took the infection tally to over 3.36 lakh.
Jain said the positivity rate as on Tuesday stood at 6.32 per cent with death rate of 1.13 per cent, based on data of the last 10 days.
"The positivity rate earlier was 8.5-10 per cent, so it seems it has stabilised, compared to the peak that was. And we are closely watching it, the trend should be downward now gradually," he told reporters.
On the number of beds for patients, Jain said, only 33 per cent of these are occupied.