Despite almost a year of its worldwide invasion the SARS-Cov-2 virus called COVID-19 continues to enjoy an advantage over humankind that will be not surprising thinking about the unprecedented crisis earned by a virus hardly recognized to anybody, its seemingly selective approach with regards to mildness or severity of the infection, baffling all medical scientists and doctors. Humankind, in its present very advanced stage of the data search, is never an event to just accept defeat, and therefore, the quest has been relentlessly going on throughout for a highly effective vaccine, and in the meantime intent research on anti-viral or anti-malarial repurposed drugs, plasma therapy and other possible methods of treatment. The priority of efforts staying at least to reduce the mortality rates which also differ country-wise and inexplicably, and till today it’s been an accepted fact that there’s no remedy for the disease. Various vaccine projects in various stages of development have been in full swing in various countries with most of them promising a vaccine by the new year day or early next year. Now, the most recent disappointing developments on treatment methods practiced so far have posed probably the most relevant question: is a highly effective vaccine only hope for humankind?
The majority of us remember the desperate international craving for a basically Indian anti-malarial drug called Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) when the pandemic was raging furiously in Europe and the US, and the US President planning to the extent of threatening India if supplies of HCQ were not. However, slowly with time this drug was found ineffective and a bit harmful too in respect to natural immunity โควิด 19. Then there were other drugs and steroids that have been used with seemingly hopeful results, Remdesivir being the one most welcomed one as a life-saver.
The outcomes of the Solidarity Clinical Trial, one of the largest international Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), that has been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) since March 2020 were declared recently which marked four of the very most promising drugs as ineffective in reducing mortality. The four evaluated treatment methods, HCQ, Remdesivir, Lopinavir or Ritonavir and Interferon, have already been found to possess little or no effect on mortality rates. As far as the RCTs conducted in various countries of the planet including in China are worried there have been doubts on the findings, and experts wish for more such studies. Objections were raised from the Solidarity Trial too as regards to its sampling methodology from various quarters, with one Indian hospital refusing to avoid using Remdesivir claiming its benefits on the months in their patients. However, technically, it means that except for Corticosteroids which have been proven effective in treating critical patients there’s no other deemed treatment method, and in addition it must certanly be remembered that steroids are not recommended for less-severe or general patients.
More disappointing news came next from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on the efficacy of the Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT), so far permitted as an investigational therapy in progressive stages of the disease in India, which involves taking out blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients and injecting this antibody-rich extract into positive patients, particularly the more severe ones treated in hospitals. Within the months it’s been progressed into an organized treatment method creating proper channels of donations over the states as infected doctors too made it a point to donate the precious plasma.
The Director General of the ICMR declared the outcomes on 20th October 2020 after conducting its RCT during April-July period of the entire year covering over 400 hospitals across 39 medical centers of the country. Based on the results the ICMR has concluded that the CPT fails to reduce the mortality rates or stop the progression of COVID-19 infections from moderate to severe stages. Following this finding the Government of India is mulling removal of CPT from its COVID-19 protocol for national clinical management. This really is indeed sad news as CPT is a huge popular approach to COVID-19 treatment in the absence of a highly effective vaccine.
Experts, however, are not convinced in regards to the CPT results saying that it could have had to do with the delay of the infusion and the grade of the antibodies. Internationally, the CPT remains a treatment method meant limited to emergency use. Anyway, because of these findings the importance of discovering a highly effective vaccine grows even more. The pandemic is not even close to keeping its clutches off humankind yet: after over six months of haphazard acceleration India has finally reached its peak in the third week of September 2020 with new cases still hovering around fifty thousand a day and 500+ daily deaths whilst the European countries and the US are experiencing another wave.
Chinmay Chakravarty is just a professional specialized in the creative field with over 2 full decades of experience in journalistic writing, media co-ordination, film script writing, film dubbing, film & video making, management of international film festivals and editing of books & journals. Experienced in providing professional services in these related fields. Was an officer of Indian Information Service and superannuated from the post of Director, Press Information Bureau, Kolkata in November, 2019. Published his first solo book’Laugh and Let Laugh’in 2017.Read More