A preprint study published in MedRxiv titled ‘Antibody Cocktail Clinical Outcomes Study in COVID-19 patients’ stated that there was no data showing benefit for hospitalised patients. It can prevent hospitalisation but does not prove to be lifesaving for all, it said, concluding that the therapy should not be used for hospitalised patients who require oxygen therapy or an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate.
Senior oncologist Dr Anitha Ramesh said she tried it for six patients, including two battling cancer. “It seems to be working very well, as they did not need any intensive care. However, the therapy has to be started before the cytokine storm. If that time period is missed, it is of no use,” she said.
Public health expert Dr K Kolandaisamy recalled how plasma therapy too had received similar response initially. “The effectiveness of antibody cocktail therapy in COVID treatment is yet to be established. It is not recommended for hospitalised patients and is effective only if used within 10 days of the infection,” he said, adding that at Rs 50,000 – Rs 60,000 per session, it is unaffordable for many.
Health Department officials said a panel has been set up at government hospitals to evaluate the benefits of the therapy before it is recommended or added as part of the protocol by any hospital for COVID treatment.
“We have set up a committee of doctors to discuss the effectiveness of the therapy. If it can be a game changer and can be adopted for high-risk patients, we should welcome them. The committee is studying the details of the therapy and we should be able to decide soon on its usage,” said Dr P Balaji, dean, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital.