The increasing and excessive use of plasma and Remdesivir for treatment is helping the Covid virus to mutate. If India does not follow evidence-based treatment, it can soon become the breeding ground for many variants of Coronavirus, Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, ex-ICMR scientist said during Covid briefings.
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The increasing use of Remdesivir and Plasma can lead to SARS-CoV-2 virus mutating and becoming stronger, ex-ICMR scientist Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar said.
“While on one side, the body’s own immune system puts pressure on the virus to mutate, using ill-timed treatment options, such as Remdesivir in mild disease and plasma in moderate to severe, can make the virus become stronger,” he said.
“The government should clearly communicate with doctors and hospitals to stop or rationalise the ongoing use of convalescent plasma and antiviral drug Remdesivir,” added Gangakhedkar.
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“With a large number of Indians exposed to the virus followed by the use of these treatment options on them, the chances of developing mutations, which may be of high significance and evade vaccine-induced immune protection, become high,” he warned.
“We could become a breeding ground for several mutants during this rapidly spreading wave if we do not adhere to evidence-based treatments.”
Not just Gangakhedkar, but many scientists and medical professionals have raised concerns over “irrational and non-scientific use of convalescent plasma” to treat COVID-19.
These experts said in a letter to Professor K. Vijay Raghavan (principal scientific advisor to the Government of India) and Dr Balram Bhargava, (Director General of ICMR) that ICMR guidelines on plasma treatment were not evidence based.
“Convalescent plasma is a very old method used as a first attempt to fight any new disease when you know nothing about a deadly infectious disease,” Dr Gangakhedkar said.
“Also, in India, we are injudiciously using the plasma which should not be given after the seventh day of Covid-19 illness.”
Ineffective therapies lead to mutations, Dr Gangakhedkar said viruses are microorganism and smart and they keep mutating. They mutate in the body of hosts, they die when hosts die.
“These viruses have error-prone reproductive enzymes and hence they develop mutations,” he said.
“The more times the virus replicates, whether through a longer survival in an immunosuppressed individual or by quickly infecting other individuals during a wave, the more is the opportunity to mutate and accumulate these mutations.”
“We challenge the virus through the selective pressure of ineffective or irrational use of antivirals or immune pressure through plasma, it will recognise the pattern and will try to change to evade those therapies”.
“Eventually, it may become a better and fit virus,” he said.
“A drug like Remdesivir is known to attack one of those enzymes, not all. This will give the virus a chance to try and produce a progeny with mutation where the drug is attacking,” he said.
“Plasma is not for moderate to severe disease whereas Remdesivir, which may reduce hospitalisation by a few days if given during moderate to severe disease, is not advised for mild disease,” he said.
“However, there is confusion and people are desperately searching for these therapies on social media channels for every patient.“
“We must think about those relatives who are running for these drugs from here to there thinking it will save their loved ones life,” the doctor added.
“They have no idea that these therapies are ineffective in certain disease stages.”
The lack of clarity of treatment can be harmful.
Earlier, India’s top health expert disclosed that the much sought after Remdesivir is not a wonder drug nor it is given either to mild or severe Covid-19 patients.
Director of AIIMS, Dr P K Singh disclosed it before Patna High Court and submitted that this drug or injection was not meant for Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 recovered patients are suffering from post viral symptoms of Mucormycosis (MM) also known as Black Fungus which is making them blind.
Heath experts say the Black Fungus is caused by the use of steroids during Covid-19 infection.