The 5 Treatments Healthcare Providers Are Using on COVID-19 Patients

By  //  June 30, 2020

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Ever since the novel coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, and rapidly spread around the globe, health experts everywhere have been forced into a steep learning curve. As what was an outbreak in a wet market quickly evolved into a global pandemic, healthcare infrastructure and medical professionals have been struggling to catch up.

Ever since the novel coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, and rapidly spread around the globe, health experts everywhere have been forced into a steep learning curve. As what was an outbreak in a wet market quickly evolved into a global pandemic, healthcare infrastructure and medical professionals have been struggling to catch up. 

The rapidly rising death toll pushed medical workers into a desperate drive to understand COVID-19’s pathology, including how human ACE2 protein affects its spread. More importantly, health experts are experimenting with various treatment methods. 

It’s still early days, so a cloud of uncertainty hangs over every treatment administered to COVID-19 patients today. It will be years before the science solidifies. Nevertheless, the following treatment methods have found some success, thus far.

• Convalescent Plasma

When someone makes a recovery from COVID-19, their blood will contain the SARS-CoV-2 S1 RBD antibody their body produced to fight off the coronavirus and accelerate their recovery.

These antibodies are in the blood’s plasma. Plasma from a recovered patient is referred to as convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma has been in use for more than a century and aided in the battle against illnesses ranging from polio to measles. 

For COVID-19, the convalescent plasma is administered, via transfusion, to a patient grappling with severe COVID-19.

The donor’s antibodies help the recipient’s immune system fight the disease, thus shortening and tempering the severity of the illness.

• Corticosteroids

At least one clinical trial has so far found that dexamethasone, a corticosteroid drug, lowered the risk of death in severely ill COVID-19 patients. From the early days of the pandemic, many doctors have been treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients with corticosteroids. From a biological standpoint, it makes sense. 

COVID-19 patients may develop a cytokine storm—a hyper-immune response to the virus. It’s the immune system’s overreaction that actually damages the patient’s lungs and other organs, eventually leading to death.

Corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone, and prednisone, are proven anti-inflammatory drugs and may lower the hyper-immune response.

• Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

A number of doctors in France have discouraged the use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen in tackling COVID-19 symptoms.

This was due to observations that some, otherwise healthy, COVID-19 patients developed pneumonia and other severe illnesses. The WHO has, however, stated that ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be used in reducing the aches, pains, and fever that accompany coronavirus infection. 

Due to the ever-changing recommendations of the WHO and other national and supranational public health organizations, it seems more prudent to opt for acetaminophen first. Ibuprofen would best be taken if acetaminophen fails to deliver symptom relief.

• Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine, and Azithromycin

Several reports from China and France have suggested chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine helped patients recover quicker. Some patients experienced positive effects when hydroxychloroquine was used in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin. 

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have, for a long time, been applied to the treatment of malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and several inflammatory illnesses.

Studies have already been shown that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine kill COVID-19 in a laboratory dish. They do that by inhibiting the virus’s ability to attack the cell. They also prevent it from multiplying by killing it if it does penetrate a cell. 

Azithromycin is a common antibiotic prescribed for the management of bacterial pneumonia and strep throat. There’s speculation that azithromycin can dampen the immune system’s overreaction to COVID-19.

• Remdesivir

The virus that causes COVID-19 is similar to those causing the diseases MERS and SARS. It’s for this reason that the antiviral drug remdesivir has attracted broad attention. Evidence from animal and laboratory studies show remdesivir may inhibit the spread and reproduction of these viruses. 

In particular, the drug targets an important enzyme that the viruses need to reproduce and this enzyme is identical in SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

It’s, therefore, likely to work against COVID-19. In fact, remdesivir has even been used to treat Ebola.

The overwhelming majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 will recover at home without any medication.

They’ll need only do what they would otherwise do to treat the common flu—stay hydrated, get some rest, and take medication for the aches and pains.

Meanwhile, scientists are exploring a wide range of options in their quest to find the most effective treatment against cases of severe COVID-19.

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