Even after almost a year of its worldwide invasion the SARS-Cov-2 virus called COVID-19 continues to enjoy an advantage over humankind which can be not surprising taking into consideration the unprecedented crisis earned by a virus hardly known to anybody, its seemingly selective approach in terms of mildness or severity of the infection, baffling all medical scientists and doctors. Humankind, in its present very advanced stage of the information search, is never an event to accept defeat, and therefore, the quest has been relentlessly going on all over for a successful vaccine, and for the time being intent research on anti-viral or anti-malarial repurposed drugs, plasma therapy and other possible methods of treatment. The main concern of all efforts staying at least to reduce the mortality rates which also differ country-wise and inexplicably, and till today it has been an accepted fact that there is no cure for the disease. Various vaccine projects in various stages of development come in full swing in various countries with a lot of them promising a vaccine by the new year day or early next year. Now, the newest disappointing developments on treatment methods practiced so far have posed the most relevant question: is a successful vaccine only hope for humankind?
Many of us remember the desperate international craving for a basically Indian anti-malarial drug called Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) once the pandemic was raging furiously in Europe and the US, and the US President going 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 have been many drugs and steroids which were combined with seemingly hopeful results, Remdesivir being the one most welcomed one as a life-saver.
The outcomes of the Solidarity Clinical Trial, among 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 promising drugs as ineffective in reducing mortality. The four evaluated treatment methods, HCQ, Remdesivir, Lopinavir or Ritonavir and Interferon, have already been found to have minimum impact on mortality rates. So far as the RCTs conducted in various countries of the world including in China are worried there will always be doubts on their findings, and experts want for more such studies. Objections were raised against the Solidarity Trial too as regards to its sampling methodology from various quarters, with one Indian hospital refusing to stop using Remdesivir claiming its benefits on the months within their patients. However, technically, this means that aside from Corticosteroids which have been proven effective in treating critical patients there’s no other deemed treatment method, and it also must certanly be remembered that steroids aren’t 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 condition 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 has been resulted in an organized treatment method creating proper channels of donations over the states as infected doctors too caused it to be a point to donate the precious plasma.
The Director General of the ICMR declared the results on 20th October 2020 after conducting a unique RCT during April-July period of the year covering over 400 hospitals across 39 medical centers of the country. On the basis of the results the ICMR has figured the CPT fails to reduce the mortality rates or stop the progression of COVID-19 infections from moderate to severe stages. Following this locating the Government of India is mulling removal of CPT from its COVID-19 protocol for national clinical management. That is indeed sad news as CPT has been a remarkably popular method of COVID-19 treatment in the lack of a successful vaccine.
Experts, however, aren’t convinced about the CPT results saying that it may experienced regarding the delay of the infusion and the grade of the antibodies. Internationally, the CPT continues to be a treatment method meant only for emergency use. Anyway, because of all these findings the importance of discovering a successful 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 3rd 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 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.