Clinical trials of Pakistani Covid-19 treatment show promising results


KARACHI: Clinical trials of Covid-19 intravenous immunoglobulin (C-IVIG), a therapy developed by Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) against coronavirus, showed promising results, the medical institute revealed in a statement on Saturday.

C-IVIG has shown 100 per cent recovery rate in severe patients, and more than 60% recovery rate in critical patients admitted in ICU [intensive care unit] or are on ventilators, with more than 50% of the recovered patients being discharged from hospital within five days, it said.

According to media reports, the DUHS scientists conducted pre-clinical trials of C-IVIG in early April, after which the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) approved the clinical trial of the treatment on a fast-track.

The production of C-IVIG and its clinical trial is sponsored by DUHS with support of HEC, while the efforts put forward by DRAP is also commendable since the approved trials have been successful in saving numerous human lives, according to DUHS’s statement.

Dr Shaukat Ali and his team under the supervision of Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Saeed Quraishy had started the project of IVIG production with plasma obtained from the blood of patients recovered from Covid-19 in April.

Dr Shaukat told the media representatives that C-IVIG is prepared by chemically purifying plasma of recovered Covid-19 patients, “which is why it is requested that recovered individuals donate their plasma”.

The Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority has already permitted DUHS to collect convalescent plasma, however due to decrease in convalescent plasma donations and a climb in infections, the required amount of IVIG cannot be prepared.

He also explained that the patients infused with C-IVIG were 60 years of age on average, and most of them had diabetes, hypertension and other cardiac diseases.

“The success of C-IVIG in these high-risk patients is very encouraging, and leaves no doubt about effectiveness of this treatment.”

The C-IVIG clinical trial started in June, and has gained momentum due to recent rise in Covid-19 patients amid second wave. However, large quantity of convalescent plasma is required to prepare this drug in large quantity and cater more patients nationwide.

Dr Shaukat explained that coronavirus is usually life-threatening due to three reasons: “Firstly, the virus attacks and damages the lungs of the patient, secondly the immune system of patients is overwhelmed by an uncontrollable cytokine storm induced by the virus, and thirdly the secondary bacterial infections cause sepsis in critical patients.”

C-IVIG when infused in infected patients, neutralises virus, stabilises immune system, while the antibodies in C-IVIG stops secondary bacterial infection.

The team behind C-IVIG led by Dr Shaukat Ali and supervised by Dr Saeed Quraishy includes Syed Muneeb Uddin, Mir Rashid Ali, Fatima Anjum, Dr Sheikh Muhammad Muhaymin, Dr Farah, Ayesha Ali, Mujtaba Khan, Elisha Shalim, Tehreem Mushtaq, Faisal Shahab, Abdul Samad Khan and Iqra Ahmed.

The clinical team includes Dr Shobha Luxmi of Dow University Hospital and Dr Muneeba Sayeed of Sindh Infectious Disease Hospital.