Let ICMR decide

Even as plasma therapy, being currently experimented for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in various ICMR-approved hospitals in the country, is still in the trial stage, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seems to have jumped the gun. He has announced the setting up of a plasma bank to manage those infected with coronavirus. While the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is yet to give a final verdict on the safety and effectiveness of this line of cure, Kejriwal’s decision sends a contrary signal. In plasma therapy, the anti-bodies-filled plasma donated by a fully recovered Covid-19 patient is transfused into an infected person to enable him to develop anti-bodies and fight the virus. While the encouraging results of the convalescent plasma therapy so far have injected hope, it is not yet an established cure.

Rather than follow the ICMR suggestion of keeping systems in place for the remedy, Delhi has shown undue haste and gone a step ahead. At this stage, it would have sufficed to be armed with a list of potential plasma donors (the nearly 52,000 persons who have successfully fought the disease in the state) and their blood type ready for use. Already under fire for its mismanagement of the situation and letting it explode in the state, this step may backfire. With a specific cure for Covid still elusive, Maharashtra, grappling with the maximum cases in the country, has also relied on this therapy, but in a different way. It has launched the largest plasma therapy trial in a bid to create a robust data and infrastructure for treatment.

Pending a medicine or vaccine, the pandemic calls for a methodic and centralised approach. Concerted efforts must be made to ensure a uniform way of functioning. Contrary stands only compound the problem for the already hassled patients and their attendants. That suspected and confirmed patients are still having to run from hospital to hospital to get a bed or a test done speaks poorly of the orderliness in our preparation for tackling the disease. No wonder people are inclined more to hear out a dying patient (in Hyderabad) accusing the hospital of removing his ventilator than the doctors contesting the charge.

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