White House Coronavirus Task Force member discusses rapid testing, when possible vaccine could be available

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 9:30 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The coronavirus pandemic was officially declared just over five months ago, and now, we’re getting an update from a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Louisiana’s response.

“The picture is really beginning to look good, and the sun is sort of lifting up from the horizon,” said Dr. John Fleming, with the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

ONE-STOP-SHOP: Stats, links related to COVID-19

He spoke on how exactly Louisiana is tackling the virus right now.

“For sure Louisiana is among the top states when it comes to testing, and that’s sort of good news-bad news that is. It makes the rates look higher, but on the other hand, we can make more diagnoses of course, so we can treat more folks,” said Dr. Fleming.

He says the rates are going down in terms of the number of people infected with COVID, but the rate of death is going down as well.

Fleming attributes it to much better care and more.

“Some of that led by Louisiana. Doctors in our major centers, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, have done a wonderful job developing new approaches when it comes to treating patients who are severely ill with this disease,” said Fleming

He also attributes it to new therapeutics like remdesivir and dexamethasone. 

But switching gears to testing, when will rapid testing be available as easy as it is to get a regular test?

“I don’t think she was experiencing fever then, she has experienced it since then. But they (doctors) didn’t feel like they needed to do a quick test, because they said they didn’t have enough in stock to use them,” said Neil Aucoin, a concerned parent.

Aucoin’s children go to Live Oak High School and Live Oak Junior High. One of his daughters got tested because she had symptoms, but still hasn’t gotten her results back. It has forced both daughters and his family to quarantine as a precaution.

“I really feel like there should be a rapid test right then. If you even have any symptoms, and then a two-day test even if you come clear on the rapid test,” said Aucoin.

“So we’re trying to get more and more of those out. We certainly want to get them to very important facilities such as nursing homes. As you know nursing homes are where we’ve seen 40-50% of our deaths from COVID,” said Fleming.

However, if you can get your results quicker, it may help ease your peace of mind, and know if you need to quarantine.

But what about the latest on a COVID-19 vaccine?

“Two (vaccines) of which are already in Phase 3. That’s the last phase of testing. And we expect to have a vaccine possibly as early as October, and it may be all the way to December. But it’s coming soon, we’re not taking any shortcuts, we’re going through all the testing phases to make sure that not only it’s effective, but it’s completely safe,” said Dr. Fleming.

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