As we await the release of the highly-anticipated COVID vaccine, we’re learning more about the top treatments for severe cases. Certain medications and therapies can dramatically improve outcomes for vulnerable patients who, even a few months ago, would have been unlikely to recover. These include the following:
Although medical experts have tested a variety of antiviral drugs on patients actively battling COVID, only remdesivir has consistently shown promise. Previously used against dangerous viruses such as Ebola, the medication has emerged as one of the most effective solutions for severe COVID cases.
A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that “A ten-day course of remdesivir was superior to placebo in the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19.” Not only does the drug appear to limit the most alarming symptoms, its use may also lead to shorter hospitalizations and swifter recovery in general.
Simple but effective, a practice known as “proning” has been relied upon since early in the pandemic to help patients in need of respirators. This approach involves rolling patients on their stomachs to shift blood flow as needed.
Research published in The Lancet suggests that this method can dramatically improve oxygenation, especially when used alongside high positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) therapy. Now, researchers are looking into specifics, such as when proning should be initiated to maximize results.
A low-risk option for treating COVID, convalescent plasma is authorized by the FDA. This liquid portion of blood recovered from previous COVID patients was initially thought to boost antibody response.
Unfortunately, recent research suggests a limited impact in terms of inflammatory markers. However, the therapy does appear to limit problems such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
As with proning, medical experts hope to determine the ideal timing for convalescent plasma. Limited evidence suggests that it may be more effective if used before severe symptoms appear.