While there were 21,632 “active” COVID-19 cases across the country till Monday, only about 80 of them were on ventilators. Top government sources said this is in line with the daily pattern seen so far.
Meanwhile, even as some states have started plasma therapy, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said there is “no evidence to use it as treatment”, and warned against adopting this line of treatment without following proper protocol and getting approval.
With 1,594 fresh cases and 51 deaths being reported in the last 24 hours, the tally has now gone up to 29,974 cases (including 7,026 recovered) and 937 deaths. A total of 7,16,733 samples have been tested so far.
According to Health Ministry data, of the “active cases” (COVID-19 patients who are currently in hospitals or quarantine facilities) till Sunday, 2.17 per cent were admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 1.29 per cent required oxygen support, and 0.36 per cent were on ventilators. The recovery rate is currently 23.3 per cent.
“Our experience so far has been that every day, between 10-15 people need ventilators. Right now, there are about 80 people across the country who are on ventilators. It is difficult to say whether this is because India’s strain is different from the European strain, but this has been our experience so far,” said a source.
An estimated 15,000 ventilators are currently available for COVID-19 care across the country, of which about half are with the private sector. The shortage of ventilators and doctors trained to use them has been one of the pressing concerns in the fight against COVID-19.
At the daily briefing, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said: “Among the therapies that are being experimented with is plasma therapy. There is no evidence to use it as treatment. ICMR has also launched a trial to study this, but till the study comes to a conclusion, this will remain a trial that has to be done keeping in mind the relevant trial protocols and with approvals. Not doing so is illegal and can even be life threatening.”
In a series of tweets, the ICMR said: “Currently, there are no approved, definitive therapies for #COVID19. Convalescent plasma is one of the several emerging therapies. However, there is no robust evidence to support it for routine therapy. @US_FDA has also viewed it as an experimental therapy. Convalescent plasma therapy comes with its own share of technical challenges, like antibody titer testing. There are also several risks of using this therapy, including life-threatening allergic reactions and lung injury.”
“Given the serious uncertainties around #COVID19 convalescent plasma therapy, @ICMRDelhi has initiated a multi-centre clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of using this therapy in #COVID19 patients in India. Despite the threat of #COVID19 #pandemic, there’s a need to ensure the ethical integrity & establish the scientific basis of using #COVID19 convalescent plasma therapy in patients,” it said.
Till Tuesday, 17 districts which earlier had positive cases had not reported any new case in the last 28 days. While two new districts — Kalimpong (West Bengal) and Wayanad (Kerala) — have been included in the list, Lakhisarai (Bihar) has dropped out.
In a letter to states, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has asked them to ensure non-COVID essential medical services are maintained. Making special mention of dialysis, institutional deliveries, blood transfusion, chemotherapy etc, Sudan underlined the need for states to ensure that private clinics remain open to provide these services.
In a separate letter, Additional Secretary & Mission Director, National Health Mission, Vandana Gurnani also asked the states to ensure that “essential health services are continued in order to maintain people’s trust in the health system.”