Even with almost annually of its worldwide invasion the SARS-Cov-2 virus called COVID-19 continues to savor an edge over humankind that is not surprising considering the unprecedented crisis introduced by a virus hardly proven to anybody, its seemingly selective approach when it comes to 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 simply accept defeat, and therefore, the quest has been relentlessly going on throughout for a highly effective vaccine, and for the time being intent research on anti-viral or anti-malarial repurposed drugs, plasma therapy and other possible ways of treatment. The priority of most efforts being 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 surely is no cure for the disease. Various vaccine projects in various stages of development are in full swing in various countries with a lot of them promising a vaccine by the brand 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 a highly effective vaccine only a cure 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 as time passes this drug was found ineffective and somewhat harmful too according to natural immunity โควิด 19. Then there were some other drugs and steroids that were combined with seemingly hopeful results, Remdesivir being usually the one most welcomed one as a life-saver.
The outcome 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 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 little if any affect mortality rates. So far as the RCTs conducted in various countries of the entire world including in China are worried there have always been doubts on the findings, and experts feel the need 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 over the months in their patients. However, technically, it indicates that aside from Corticosteroids that have been proven effective in treating critical patients there’s no other deemed treatment method, and it also 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 being 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, specially the more severe ones treated in hospitals. On the months it has been progressed into a systematic treatment method creating proper channels of donations over the states as infected doctors too made it a point out donate the precious plasma.
The Director General of the ICMR declared the outcome on 20th October 2020 after conducting its own RCT during April-July period of the season covering over 400 hospitals across 39 medical centers of the country. Based on 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 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 very popular approach to COVID-19 treatment in the absence of a highly effective vaccine.
Experts, however, are not convinced about the CPT results saying that it might have had related to 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 most these findings the importance of discovering a highly effective vaccine grows even more. The pandemic is far from keeping its clutches off humankind yet: after over 6 months of haphazard acceleration India has finally reached its peak in the next week of September 2020 with new cases still hovering around fifty thousand a day and 500+ daily deaths as the European countries and the US are experiencing an additional 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. 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.