NEW DELHI: Does plasma therapy help reduce the risk of death in Covid-19 patients? There have been multiple studies on the subject, but the jury is still out.
A recently conducted study at three hospitals run by Max Healthcare — a private hospital chain — has claimed that plasma therapy reduces the risk of death in elderly patients with Covid-19, especially those requiring ICU care. The result of the study has been published in the journal — Blood Cells, Molecules and Diseases.
According to Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director of Max Healthcare, the three hospitals run by the group — Max Super Specialty and Max Smart in south Delhi and Max Shalimar Bagh in northwest Delhi — admitted 1,249 Covid patients between May 1 and August 31, last year. Of them, he added, 1,079 were included in the final analysis.
At the end of 28 days, 241 people died due to the infection. “Of the total 1,079 patients on oxygen, the overall mortality was 22.4% in the plasma group, and 18.5% in the non-plasma group. This difference was not statistically significant,” the research stated.
It claimed that 694 patients (64% of the total patients included in the study) required transfer to ICU. Of them, 333 (48%) received convalescent plasma, in addition to the best supportive care, while the remaining 361 (52%) were on best supportive care only. Here, the difference in mortality risk between the two groups was significant; mortality was 26% vs 33% in the plasma vs non-plasma group, the study showed.
“Reduced mortality in the plasma group was particularly seen in patients aged 60-74 years, driven mostly by women of the research group,” the Max Healthcare study found.
Twenty six out of 333 (8%) patients received a second unit of convalescent plasma, because their condition did not improve after the first round. Of them, 10 (38%) died. The researchers said the infusion of convalescent plasma was largely safe and no major adverse effects were observed in any of the patients.
The study results are, however, quite different from that of the only other large-scale study from India — a multi-centric prospective study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research, that included 464 Covid-19 patients admitted to 39 tertiary care hospitals (29 teaching and 10 private hospitals) across the country. It did not find any difference in mortality between plasma vs non-plasma group (14.5% vs 13.5%). The ICMR study did not include severe life threatening Covid-19 patients.
In the Max Healthcare research, doctors claimed, the overall cohort did not have significant mortality benefit. The benefit emerged only in more critically ill patients of Covid-19, who were in ICU, they added.