Even with almost per year of its worldwide invasion the SARS-Cov-2 virus called COVID-19 continues to take pleasure from an edge over humankind which can be not surprising considering the unprecedented crisis brought in by a disease hardly proven 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 a party to just accept defeat, and therefore, the quest has been relentlessly going on around for a powerful vaccine, and in the meantime intent research on anti-viral or anti-malarial repurposed drugs, plasma therapy and other possible types of treatment. The priority of most efforts coming to least to cut back the mortality rates which also differ country-wise and inexplicably, and till today it’s been an accepted fact that there’s no cure for the disease. Various vaccine projects in several stages of development come in full swing in several countries with most of them promising a vaccine by the new year day or early next year. Now, the latest disappointing developments on treatment methods practiced up to now have posed the most relevant question: is a powerful vaccine only expect humankind?
Most 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 over time this drug was found ineffective and a bit harmful too according to natural immunity โควิด 19. Then there were other drugs and steroids that have been used in combination with seemingly hopeful results, Remdesivir being the main 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 most promising drugs as ineffective in reducing mortality. The four evaluated treatment methods, HCQ, Remdesivir, Lopinavir or Ritonavir and Interferon, have been found to own minimum affect mortality rates. In terms of the RCTs conducted in several countries of the planet including in China are involved there will always be doubts on the findings, and experts feel the need 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 prevent using Remdesivir claiming its benefits over the months in their patients. However, technically, it means that except for Corticosteroids that have been proven effective in treating critical patients there’s no other deemed treatment method, and in addition, it should 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), up to now permitted being 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. Over the months it’s been progressed into an organized treatment method creating proper channels of donations throughout the states as infected doctors too managed to get an indicate donate the precious plasma.
The Director General of the ICMR declared the outcomes on 20th October 2020 after conducting its own RCT during April-July period of the entire year covering over 400 hospitals across 39 medical centers of the country. On the basis of the results the ICMR has concluded that the CPT fails to cut back the mortality rates or prevent 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 is indeed sad news as CPT is a huge remarkably popular approach to COVID-19 treatment in the lack of a powerful vaccine.
Experts, however, are not convinced concerning the CPT results saying that it could have had regarding the delay of the infusion and the caliber of the antibodies. Internationally, the CPT remains a treatment method meant limited to emergency use. Anyway, because of most these findings the importance of discovering a powerful vaccine grows even more. The pandemic is not even close to keeping its clutches off humankind yet: after over half a year of haphazard acceleration India has finally reached its peak in the next week of September 2020 with new cases still hovering around fifty thousand per day and 500+ daily deaths whilst the European countries and the US are experiencing a second wave.
Chinmay Chakravarty is a professional specialized in the creative field with over 2 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. Proficient 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.