Thousands of studies underway to find COVID-19 treatments

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
05/27/2020 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Though the COVID-19 virus has been in the human population less than a year, the scale and intensity of lab work have resulted in greater understanding of it, and suggested some potential treatments that might reduce the severity and lethality of infection until a vaccine is developed. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – It hasn’t taken long for thousands of studies to spring up around the world, each trying to find an effective COVID-19 treatment.

Though the virus has been in the human population less than a year, the scale and intensity of lab work have resulted in greater understanding of it, and suggested some potential treatments that might reduce the severity and lethality of infection until a vaccine is developed.

While some measures show promise, none have completed the necessary testing to determine efficacy, even under the accelerated timelines sometimes permitted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

No unproven COVID-19 treatment or preventative should be tried at home; a doctor should be consulted when considering a new drug; and some of the “promising” measures have been applied only with patients who were dying or severely ill.

Remdesivir has offered enough tentative hope that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, voiced optimism.

“If you look at the time to recovery being shorter in the remdesivir arm (of the study), it was 11 days compared to 15 days,” Fauci said. “Though a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is a very important proof of concept. What it has proven is a drug can block this virus.”

The drug was part of a NIAID trial with 500 patients. Along with the shorter recovery times, the rate of death was 8% among those taking the remdesivir, and 11.6% in the control group. An FDA emergency use authorization has been in place since May 1 for doctors to treat seriously ill and hospitalized patients.

Other treatments being studied include anticoagulants, which reduce the incidence of blood clots in severely ill COVID-19 cases. Drugs that blunt the body’s immune response are also being scrutinized. Viruses destroy the functions of cells they infect, but symptoms are often the inflammatory response, and doctors are seeing that in a small minority of cases that the body can literally kill itself trying to rid itself of infection. Immunity suppression could be a tightrope treatment, requiring doctors to lower immune response to keep the patient alive, while simultaneously allowing the immune system to function enough to effectively attack the virus.

Blood plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19 have been used in gravely ill patients with promising anecdotal results. Assuming immunity is acquired after infection – health experts say further study is needed – the antibodies in plasma could jumpstart acquired immunity in patients that have trouble beating the virus.

The CDC on May 20 revised its website to advise that COVID-19 is spread by respiratory action between people, and is much harder to transmit on hard surfaces, or from person to animal or animal to person.

While acknowledging the new information, Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Todd Enlow told employees that the CN would “remain diligent in keeping our high contact areas safe for employees and guests to our offices.”

Enlow said sprayers, sanitation wipes, hand sanitizer and buckets are being supplied to all work areas at CN facilities to allow the cleaning of surfaces as the CN begins bringing non-essential employees back to the workplace.

The CDC continues to recommend that all people wear masks, even if just made of cloth, when going into public places, and to maintain social distancing.

Local guidelines or laws to prevent transmission should be observed. All 50 states have begun reopening, but the virus has struck at varying intensities in various populations.

Though there is less evidence that masks keep people from getting COVID-19, they do appear to impede passage of the virus by infected people. The coronavirus can be transmitted for up to two weeks – though 2-5 days is thought to be more common – before a person shows symptoms. Asymptomatic people could be contagious for up to 28 days.

The CDC also recommends that when people leave their homes, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds when they return.

In the CN, those with questions can call W.W. Hastings Hospital, the Health Services clinics and respective county health departments. For information and incidence data, visit health.cherokee.org/corona-virus-covid-19.

For state information, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov, the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s COVID-19 page. For national information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
About the Author
Sean Rowley was hired by the Cherokee Phoenix at the beginning of 2019. Sean was born a long time ago in Tulsa, where he grew up and attended Booker T. Washington High School as a freshman before moving to Pawnee County and graduating from Cleveland High School in 1987. 

He graduated sans honors from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in mass communication with emphases in advertising and public relati ...
david-rowley@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Sean Rowley was hired by the Cherokee Phoenix at the beginning of 2019. Sean was born a long time ago in Tulsa, where he grew up and attended Booker T. Washington High School as a freshman before moving to Pawnee County and graduating from Cleveland High School in 1987. He graduated sans honors from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in mass communication with emphases in advertising and public relati ...

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