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There is still no approved treatment for covid-19, the government said amid reports that plasma convalescent therapy could be used to treat the disease.

“Plasma therapy is an experimental therapy that can be used for research and trial only. Studies are on to gain a better understanding and until it is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), no one should use it for treatment. It would be illegal and could even risk the patient’s life," said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry.

ICMR has also started a nationwide study on the efficacy of plasma therapy for covid-19 patients. Several scientific and medical institutions have been given the go ahead for clinical trials. Each of these trials are required to adhere to guidelines and protocols laid down by ICMR and approved by Institutional Ethics Committee, with the subsequent approval of the Drug Controller General of India.

“Until ICMR concludes its study and gets some robust scientific evidence, this therapy should not be used for treatment. It is one of the many therapies that are being experimented with, but if it is not used according to guidelines, it can also cause life threatening complications," said Agarwal.

In this therapy, antibody-laden serum from previously recovered patients is passively infused in critically-ill patients to help them fight further progression of the disease.

According to the ministry, as of Tuesday, there are 17 districts in the country where earlier cases had come, but now no new case has been reported for the past 28 days.

Neetu Chandra Sharma contributed to this story.

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