Covid-19 treatment: AIIMS to conduct clinical trials of plasma therapy

It is necessary for all institutes to take necessary approvals from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and DCGI and follow proper clinical practice guidelines for this research. AIIMS. Photo: PTI
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences is planning to conduct a clinical trial of the convalescent plasma therapy in the treatment of Covid-19 patients, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Tuesday. The modalities of taking the approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) is being worked out, official sources said.

Stating that the mode of treatment in Covid-19 is still at an "experimental stage", Guleria stressed on the need to have good and well-conducted research trials before its benefit, and this mode of therapy can be recommended for routine use in coronavirus patients. "AIIMS is working with the ICMR to conduct a clinical trial on the efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy in Covid-19 patients," he said. The doctor said it is necessary for all institutes to take necessary approvals from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and DCGI and follow proper clinical practice guidelines for this research.

"In very limited studies, globally, convalescent plasma as an adjunct to other supportive therapies and treatments has shown some benefit in the management of severe patients of Covid-19," Guleria said. He also underlined that plasma has to be tested for its safety and it should have sufficient antibodies to be useful for giving it to Covid-19 patients. "Giving plasma from a recovered patient without testing whether it has enough antibody titer or not may cause more harm than good as it can cause transfusion-related reactions," he said.

Dr Vivek Nangia, Director and Head, Pulmonology, Medical Critical Care and Sleep Disorders at Fortis hospital here, said the health ministry has made the "right move to dispel any notion attached to plasma therapy" as far as Covid-19 is concerned, and added there is no specific treatment for the disease as of now. "One should not be giving false hope to patients," he stated. "This is a new virus and no specific treatment for this disease, whether it is hydroxychloroquine or plasma therapy. These are all conjectural therapies or experimental therapies," he said.

Pfizer plans expanded coronavirus vaccine trials

Pfizer Inc on Tuesday said it expects its experimental coronavirus vaccine to move into expanded clinical trials by October that could allow for emergency use or accelerated approval, as it ramps up efforts to combat the pandemic. The company left its full-year adjusted profit forecast of $2.82 to $2.92 per share unchanged, saying it expects the pandemic to have little impact on its overall results.

Pfizer said most of its drugs are not administered at the physician's office, which would help it emerge from the pandemic with a "negligible" impact on its results. Millions of Americans have been avoiding visiting doctors or hospitals out of fear of becoming infected with the virus. However, Chief Executive Albert Bourla on a conference call cautioned, "We are likely to see more negative impact during the second quarter, driven primarily by reductions in new patient starts."

Pfizer, in partnership with Germany's BioNTech, is among many drugmakers racing to develop a vaccine for the highly contagious virus that has infected more than 3 million people worldwide.

India's pharma capabilities will remain available to world to fight Covid-19: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India's productive capabilities in the pharmaceutical sector would remain available for assisting the citizens of the world as countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic. He also said partnership between India and Canada is vital to fighting the pandemic. In a tweet, Modi said he spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Thanked him for looking after Indian citizens in Canada in these difficult times," he said. "Collaboration and partnership between India and Canada is vital to fighting the pandemic, including through medical research and supply chain management," the prime minister said.

A statement later said Prime Minister Modi conveyed the assurance that India's productive capabilities in the pharmaceutical sector would remain available for assisting the citizens of the world, including those of Canada, to the best of New Delhi's abilities.

The two leaders agreed that the partnership between India and Canada could contribute meaningfully to the global effort to fight the pandemic, especially through collaboration in research and technology aimed at finding a vaccine or therapeutic solutions to Covid-19. The two leaders discussed the prevailing global situation regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. They agreed on the importance of global solidarity and coordination, maintenance of supply chains, and collaborative research activities, the statement said.

Punjab ITI students produce over 250,000 masks till date: Channi

Punjab Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday said that ITI students have produced more than 250,000 masks till date. He also appealed to the officials, principals and the students to continue the good work with high spirit. He also advised them to take all necessary precautions during making masks. "The Punabis have once again proved that they are always ahead while performing any duty or task in the crisis situation when the country needs them," Channi said.

Anurag Verma, Principal Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training Punjab said that the Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Mahendra Nath Pandey on Tuesday held a video conference with the Principals and Students of 28 ITIs from all across the country for Covid-19 related good work and out of these 6 ITIs were from Punjab. "The Union Minister highly appreciated the good work of ITIs of Punjab for making masks," Verma said.

CSIR-CMERI develops robotic device that can collect samples of people having Covid-19 symptoms

The CSIR-CMERI in Durgapur has developed a low-cost robotic device that can be used for collecting samples of people having symptoms of coronavirus, besides treating Covid-19 patients. The ''Hospital Care Assistive Robotic Device'' will be very helpful for the frontline healthcare workers who are treating Covid-19 patients, said professor Harish Hirani, director of CSIR-CMERI (Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute).

It will help them in delivering services while maintaining social distancing, reducing the chance of them getting infected, he said. 
The cost of the device is less than Rs 5 lakh and the weight is not more than 80 kg, making it easy to use and affordable for healthcare facilities, Hirani said. The device, which has a video call facility, can also be used in providing food to the patients.

The device can be navigated through automatic and manual modes, and needs to be monitored by a nursing booth with a control station. "It will be able to transport food items, medicines, testing equipment, files, personal protective equipment in a comprehensive sterilised environment," Hirani said.



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