Even with almost per year of its worldwide invasion the SARS-Cov-2 virus called COVID-19 continues to enjoy a benefit over humankind which will be not surprising taking into consideration the unprecedented crisis introduced by a disease hardly recognized 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 data search, is never a celebration to simply accept defeat, and therefore, the quest has been relentlessly going on around for a highly effective vaccine, and meanwhile intent research on anti-viral or anti-malarial repurposed drugs, plasma therapy and other possible types of treatment. The priority of efforts being at 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 is no remedy for the disease. Various vaccine projects in various stages of development have been 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 most recent disappointing developments on treatment methods practiced so far have posed the most relevant question: is a highly effective vaccine only hope for 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 with time this drug was found ineffective and a little harmful too in respect to natural immunity โควิด 19. Then there have been several other drugs and steroids that were combined with seemingly hopeful results, Remdesivir being the one most welcomed one as a life-saver.
The outcome of the Solidarity Clinical Trial, one of many largest international Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), that’s 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 little or no impact on mortality rates. As far as the RCTs conducted in various countries of the planet including in China are worried there have always been doubts on their findings, and experts want 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 stop using Remdesivir claiming its benefits on the months in their patients. However, technically, this means that with the exception of Corticosteroids that have been proven effective in treating critical patients there is no other deemed treatment method, and additionally, it must 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 illness in India, which involves taking out blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients and injecting this antibody-rich extract into positive patients, specially the more severe ones treated in hospitals. Over the months it’s been progressed into a systematic treatment method creating proper channels of donations throughout the states as infected doctors too caused it to be a point out donate the precious plasma.
The Director General of the ICMR declared the outcome on 20th October 2020 after conducting a unique RCT during April-July amount 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 cut back the mortality rates or avoid the progression of COVID-19 infections from moderate to severe stages. Following this choosing 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 extremely popular approach to COVID-19 treatment in the absence of a highly effective vaccine.
Experts, however, aren’t convinced concerning the CPT results saying that it could have had to do with the delay of the infusion and the quality of the antibodies. Internationally, the CPT continues to be a treatment method meant limited to emergency use. Anyway, in view 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 3rd 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 a second wave.
Chinmay Chakravarty is really a professional specialized in the creative field with over two 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.