Remdesivir or plasma therapy no magic solution against COVID-19, say Delhi doctors

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is still no evidence that Remdesivir is beneficial for hospitalised coronavirus patients.

Published: 17th April 2021 09:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th April 2021 10:39 AM   |  A+A-

A COVID-19 survivor donates plasma at a Plasma Bank

A COVID-19 survivor donates plasma at a Plasma Bank. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Of late, social media platforms have been flooded with requests for plasma donation and Remdesivir, from the near ones of those who tested positive. Experts believe this is not necessary.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is still no evidence that Remdesivir is beneficial for hospitalised coronavirus patients.

WHO’s guideline committee recommended against the use of the drug on patients hospitalised with Covid-19, regardless of how sick they are.

It has no important effect on mortality and does not reduce the need for mechanical ventilation.

The same with plasma therapy, which was last year found not beneficial for saving lives. So why are the hospitals recommending plasma therapy or Remdesivir for Covid-19 patients?

“These are no magic bullets,” said Dr Neeraj Nischal, associate professor in the department of medicine, AIIMS Delhi.

“There is a frenzy created around Remdesivir. It’s been seen in various trials that it doesn’t have mortality benefits and is not needed by everyone. It’s only for selected patients, with early oxygen requirements. It may have a role in such circumstances, but there’s a question mark over that as well. There’s no need to rush for Remdesivir. The same goes for plasma therapy. It’s not for everybody. This message should be loud and clear.”

Dr SP Byotra, chairman of the department of medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, clarifies that they hardly use or recommend this medicine even for patients in a critical condition.  

“The demand suddenly increased, when cases surged in the last few weeks. There wasn’t much stock and how can families arrange it in a short span? In some emergency cases, it may be recommended. Same for plasma therapy. Because there’s no medicine for treating the virus, there’s no concrete treatment process.” 

“Under such circumstances, plasma can be used.”

Another premier hospital noted that neither do they have Remdesivir in stock, nor do they ask families of patients to get it.

“Plasma therapy is outdated, proven not to be efficient. So why bother families to get them? We are so far not engaging in any of these two,” added an official, requesting anonymity.

Dr Sandeep Nayar, senior director and HOD, Centre for Chest and Respiratory Disease at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, said Remdesivir is mostly given to admitted patients in moderate and severe cases.

“As a policy, we don’t admit mild cases, hence most of the patients are eligible to receive it. Convalescent plasma is also administered in carefully selected patients. Those with moderate disease, especially within seven to 10 days of onset of symptoms, are most likely to benefit,” he mentioned.

Dr KK Talwar, chairman, PSRI Heart Institute, noted that while plasma therapy has some questionable benefits, Remdesivir has not shown any in reducing mortality in solidarity and recovery trials. 


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