Andhra Pradesh

Plasma therapy has limited effect in COVID patients, says study

The study on effectiveness of convalescent plasma in management of moderate COVID symptoms was conducted in 39 public and private hospitals in India last year.  

With the sharp spike in coronavirus infections and related deaths during the second wave the pandemic, there has been an increased clamour on plasma donation especially on various social media platforms.

However, a study involving 464 adults with moderate symptoms of the infection last year suggests that the Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT) has shown a limited effect in reducing the progression to severe disease or death.

The study ‘Convalescent Plasma in the management of moderate COVID-19 in adults in India: open label phase II multicentre randomised controlled trial (PLACID trial)’ was conducted in 39 public and private hospitals in India, involving 464 adults admitted between April and July last year.

Tirupati connection

Of the nearly 100 co-authors of the study report, five were from the Tirupati-based Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS), including its Director and professor of neurology B. Vengamma, Alladi Mohan and K. Chandrasekhar (both from Department of Internal Medicine), K.V. Sridhar Babu and B. Suresh Babu (both from Department of Transfusion Medicine).

As many as 235 patients were transfused convalescent plasma, while another 229 patients received standard care only. The first category received two doses of 200 ml of convalescent plasma 24 hours apart and the samples were studied for 28 days, after which progression to severe disease was witnessed in 44 patients in the first category (19%) and 41 patients (18%) in the second.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMC) last October, concluded that ‘convalescent plasma was not associated with a reduction of progression to severe COVID-19 or all cause mortality, though it seemed to improve resolution of shortness of breath and fatigue in patients.’

The researchers also found no difference in 28-day mortality or progression to severe disease among the patients in either category. Another study conducted by Argentina and published in New England Journal of Medicine this February on patients in the age group of 65 to 74 years, however, showed benefits in the elderly when CPT was administered within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms.


The studies discussed some practical problems too. Though all survivors of COVID-19 were encouraged to donate plasma, most of them were young and had only mild infection. The recovered patients who had moderate to severe infection were reluctant to visit hospitals for plasma donation, which proved to be a stumbling block in scaling up plasma treatment.

As CPT is authorised for off-label use for COVID-19 in India, it questioned practices such as requests for donation on social media and sale of plasma in the black market at exorbitant prices.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 1:53:47 AM |

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