Plasma therapy trials have already started in some states — like Maharashtra, UP and Madhya Pradesh — though on a very small scale involving only one or a couple of patients. The use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets as a preventive measure for front-line healthcare workers, and on patients and their contacts, also has started in some states.
Other states and UTs are either awaiting approval from the ICMR or have got approval but have not yet started administering plasma from infected patients who have since recovered. In Maharashtra, just one patient has been on plasma treatment since this week, while the state is starting HCQ tablets for everyone on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19.
BMC has already distributed 7 lakh HCQS tablets among hospitals and Covid care centres in the last 15 days. On Wednesday, state health minister Rajesh Tope said more centres in the state would be roped in once they meet ICMR guidelines. Plasma therapy is the transfusion of antibody-rich blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients into those who are ill with the infection.
In Indore, three patients were injected with plasma two days ago, and on Wednesday a policeman critically ill in Bhopal received plasma. In both MP cities, private hospitals are running the plasma therapy clinical trials. In Lucknow, one 58-year-old critical patient was given plasma on Sunday.
On Tuesday, doctors said he had improved. Punjab had recently allowed a private hospital to conduct plasma therapy on Ludhiana ACP Anil Kohli but Kohli died before treatment could begin. The state has directed all frontline workers to take the recommended weekly dose of HCQ. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have re ceived permission for plasma therapy trials but have not yet begun.
Karnataka has collected plasma from two recovered Covid patients but this has not yet been administered as none of the seven patients in ICUs across the state are eligible under the therapy protocol. “Being on ventilator support and low oxygen saturation are prerequisites for plasma therapy,” doctors said on Wednesday. Telangana said it had 100 donors ready and would resort to plasma therapy only if a patient needed it.
As for HCQ tablets, Karnataka began giving them to frontline workers from April 17. The tablets are now given to all staff of the health and family welfare department, contacts of Covid-19 patients, and those working in containment zones.
The state government has also suggested that the drug can be taken by senior citizens in consultation with specialist doctors but not for children below 15 years of age. Plasma therapy has not yet started in Kerala, though it was the first state to seek approval from the ICMR. Later, ICMR informed the Kerala government that hospitals treating Covid-19 patients can join ICMR’s clinical trials.
Though government hospitals have applied, they were still awaiting permission. HCQ, though, is giv en as a preventive medication for high-risk segments — asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases and asymptomatic household contacts of confirmed cases. Rajasthan, Bengal, Chandigarh and Tamil Nadu are all awaiting ICMR permission.
Chandigarh, once it receives permission, plans to start plasma trials on 20 patients.The UT has not made HCQ tablets mandatory, they are taken by doctors of their own accord. Himachal Pradesh has not started plasma therapy trials and HCQ tablets have not been used for anyone as yet
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