OLOL specialist talks treatments for COVID-19, possible vaccine

Specialist at OLOL talks COVID-19 treatments, possible vaccine

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - New updates regarding treatments and a possible vaccine for COVID-19 are changing everyday.

Information these days is changing so rapidly. Health experts have talked about remdesivir to treat people hospitalized with coronavirus, convalescent plasma donations, and a possible vaccine in the works.

“So I’m confident that the care we’re delivering today is significantly better than our very first case. It was a new virus that we didn’t know a whole lot about,” said Dr. Christopher Thomas, medical director of system quality and patient safety at Our Lady of the Lake.

WAFB asked him first about the new drug, remdesevir, which doesn’t cure coronavirus, but may help shorten its duration.

"But what we’ve been able to see is that our patients have tolerated it well, that the patients that have been on oxygen, those that have recovered, whether or not that’s exactly from the medicine or whether it’s just they were going to recover, it’s still a little bit unknown,” said Dr. Thomas.

Clinical trials for the drug have shown early promise, and the more patients doctors are able to give remdesevir to, the more data they’ll be able to collect.

“So we believe that we’re seeing some response, but again, it’s hard to know until you have large swaths of patients,” said Dr. Thomas.

He says four weeks ago, the hospital started to see somewhat of a plateau in cases. Now, they’re treating somewhere between 30 to 50 people in the hospital. But what about donating plasma?

“Do we know if it works or not? We don’t yet. Mayo Clinic will have to tell us that after we see lots of patients across the country,” said Dr. Thomas.

As researchers and doctors race for a way to prevent coronavirus, another company that creates vaccines, called NOVAVAX, has begun human trials.

“Any conversation about vaccines right now is premature at best. It is scientifically interesting, it is exciting,” said Dr. Thomas.

NOVAVAX says preliminary safety and effectiveness trials of the vaccine should be ready by July. If those results are promising, phase two of the trial will begin, with more participants in more countries

“You have to first be able to develop it, next, see if it’s effective, then try to see whether there are side effects, and then think about production, but when I think about it for my wife and I think about it for my kids, I recognize that we’re talking about something that is a long way away,” said Dr. Thomas.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he believes we will have a vaccine by the end of 2020. That’s certainly what everyone is hoping and praying for.

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