Even with almost annually of its worldwide invasion the SARS-Cov-2 virus called COVID-19 continues to take pleasure from an edge over humankind that is not surprising taking into consideration the unprecedented crisis brought in by a disease 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 a celebration to simply accept defeat, and therefore, the quest has been relentlessly going on all over for an effective 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 coming to least to lessen the mortality rates which also differ country-wise and inexplicably, and till today it has been an accepted fact that there’s no remedy for the disease. Various vaccine projects in several stages of development come in full swing in several countries with a lot of them promising a vaccine by the new year day or early next year. Now, the latest disappointing developments on treatment methods practiced so far have posed the most relevant question: is an 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 somewhat harmful too according to natural immunity โควิด 19. Then there have been many drugs and steroids that have been used with seemingly hopeful results, Remdesivir being the one most welcomed one as a life-saver.
The results 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 now been found to own minimum affect mortality rates. So far as the RCTs conducted in several countries of the planet including in China are concerned there have been doubts on the 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 avoid using Remdesivir claiming its benefits within the months inside their patients. However, technically, it indicates that aside from Corticosteroids which have been proven effective in treating critical patients there’s no other deemed treatment method, and additionally it must 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, specially the more severe ones treated in hospitals. Over the months it has been resulted in a systematic treatment method creating proper channels of donations over the states as infected doctors too managed to get an indicate donate the precious plasma.
The Director General of the ICMR declared the results on 20th October 2020 after conducting its own RCT during April-July amount 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 lessen the mortality rates or avoid 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. This is indeed sad news as CPT has been a popular method of COVID-19 treatment in the lack of an effective vaccine.
Experts, however, are not convinced about the CPT results saying that it might have experienced regarding the delay of the infusion and the grade of the antibodies. Internationally, the CPT remains remedy method meant just for emergency use. Anyway, because of all these findings the significance of discovering an effective vaccine grows even more. The pandemic is definately not 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 a day and 500+ daily deaths while 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.