31st Oct, 2020

PLACID Trials: convalescent plasma therapy shows no positive effects

Recently, the PLACID Trial, a multicentre randomized controlled trial (RCT), has shown that convalescent plasma (CP) therapy for Covid-19 patients gave no positive effects and did not improve the outcome of the patients.

The trial results indicate that there was no difference in the 28-day mortality. 

Progression of Covid-19 from moderate to severe in patients treated with CP along with basic standard care had no difference when compared to basic standard care alone.

The use of CP seemed to improve the resolution of shortness of breath and fatigue in patients with moderate Covid-19. However, this did not translate into a reduction in 28-day mortality or progression to severe disease.

The ICMR is now considering removing the option of CPT from the national guidelines.

Convalescent Plasma Therapy

Convalescent Plasma, extracted from the blood of patients recovering from an infection, is a source of antibodies against the infection.

The therapy uses blood from people who have recovered from an illness to help others recover.

Blood donated by people who have recovered from Covid-19 has antibodies to the virus that causes it. 

The donated blood is processed to remove blood cells, leaving behind liquid (plasma) and antibodies. These can be given to people with Covid-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus.

The plasma donor would have to be a documented case of Covid-19 and healthy for 28 days since the last symptoms.


It was conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 

Aim: To investigate CPT’s effectiveness for the treatment of Covid-19.

It is the first and largest randomized control trial to be completed in the world.

RCT is a trial in which subjects are randomly assigned to one of two groups. 

One (the experimental group) receiving the intervention that is being tested, and the other (the comparison group or control) receiving an alternative (conventional) treatment.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Art exhibition and festival

Kochi-Muziris Biennale was in the news recently. 

Its 5th edition has been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 

It is an art exhibition and festival. 

It is the largest of its kind in South Asia.

Organized by: Kochi Biennale Foundation at Kochi, Kerala.

The Foundation is a non-profit charitable trust engaged in promoting art and culture and educational activities in India.

It works throughout the year to strengthen contemporary art infrastructure and to broaden public access to art across India through a diverse range of programmes.

In mythology, Muziris was a port city, among the earliest of its kind in the world. 

When Kerala established itself as a major center for spice, the ancient port of Muziris emerged as its hub.

Currently, the Muziris Heritage Project is one of the biggest conservation projects in India, where the state and the central governments have come together to conserve a rich culture that is as old as 3000 years or more.

The biennale exhibits artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, etc. 

Computation Analysis of Indian Genes published

Recently, the results from the computation analysis of the 1029 sequenced genomes from India were published in the scientific journal, Nucleic Acid Research.

The analysis was carried out by CSIR constituent labs, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

The analysis has found that out of approximately 55.8 million single nucleotide variants in India, around 18.01 million (32.23%) variants are unique and found only in the samples sequenced from India.

Thus, India-centric population genomic initiative becomes important.


A genome is all the genetic matter in an organism. 

It is defined as an organism’s complete set of DNA including all of its genes.

Every organism’s genetic code is contained in its DNA, the building blocks of life.

Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.

In humans, a copy of the entire genome contains more than 3 billion DNA base pairs.

Genome sequencing

It means figuring out the order of Adenine, Cytosine, Guanines, and Thymine (DNA nucleotides) in a genome


(1) Crucial role for new advancements in medical science;

(2) In disease management;

(3) Researchers and clinicians can easily detect the disease related to genetic disorder.

The study of entire genome sequences will help understand how genes work together to direct the growth, development and maintenance of an entire organism.

The genes account for less than 25% of the DNA in the Genome. Thus, knowing the entire genome sequence will help scientists study the parts of the genome outside the genes.

Superconductivity achieved at Room Temperature

Recently, researchers have created a material that is superconducting at room temperature. 

It only works at a pressure of 267 Gigapascals (GPa). 

A mixture of carbon, hydrogen and sulfur was put in a microscopic niche carved between the tips of two diamonds (diamond anvil) and laser light was used on them to trigger chemical reactions.

To verify that this phase was indeed a superconductor, the group ascertained that the magnetic susceptibility of the superconductor was that of a diamagnet.

A superconducting material kept in a magnetic field expels the magnetic flux out its body when cooled below the critical temperature and exhibits perfect diamagnetism.

It is also called the Meissner effect which simply means that magnetic lines do not pass through superconductors in a magnetic field.

If researchers can stabilize the material at ambient pressure, applications of superconductivity at room temperatures could be achieved and will be within reach.

Superconductors that work at room temperature could have a big technological impact, for example in electronics that run faster without overheating.


A superconductor is a material that can conduct electricity or transport electrons from one atom to another with no resistance.

No heat, sound or any other form of energy would be released from the material when it has reached critical temperature (Tc). 

The critical temperature for superconductors is the temperature at which the electrical resistivity of metal drops to zero.

Examples: aluminum, niobium, magnesium diboride, etc.

Applications: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, low-loss power lines, ultra powerful superconducting magnets, mobile-phone towers.

Limitations: They need bulky cryogenics as the common superconductors work at atmospheric pressures, but only if they are kept very cold.

Meissner Effect: When a material makes the transition from the normal to the superconducting state, it actively excludes magnetic fields from its interior.

Direct Port Entry (DPE) facility of V O Chidambaranar Port Trust inaugurated in line with Maritime Vision 2030

Recently, the Union Minister of State for Shipping has inaugurated the Direct Port Entry (DPE) facility of V O Chidambaranar Port Trust (VOCPT).

The state-of-the-art DPE facility is created inside the Truck Parking Terminal which was developed under the ‘Sagarmala’ for issuing customs clearance of export cargo.

The facility aligns with the ‘Maritime Vision 2030’ of the Ministry of Shipping.


(1) Reduce logistics cost and increase the velocity of the cargo;

(2) Enable direct movement of containers from factories;

(3) Help in increasing Ease of Doing Business for the exporters. 

Maritime India Vision 2030

It is a ten-year blueprint for the maritime sector which will be released by the Indian Prime

Minister at the Maritime India Summit in November 2020.

It will supersede the Sagarmala initiative. 

It aims to boost waterways, the shipbuilding industry and encourage cruise tourism in India.

Maritime Development Fund: It is a Rs. 25,000-crore fund, which will provide low cost, long-tenure financing to the sector with the Centre contributing Rs. 2,500 crore over seven years.

Port Regulatory Authority: A pan-India port authority will be set up under the new Indian Ports Act for enabling oversight across major and non-major ports. 

Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid project: It will aim to develop regional connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

Riverine Development Fund: It will extend low cost, long-term financing for inland vessels with the support of a Riverine Development Fund (RDF)

Rationalization of Port Charges: It will make them more competitive. All hidden charges will be done away with.

Promotion of Water Transport