Vermont doctors say treatment options remain limited for severe COVID-19 cases

Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2020 at 5:26 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - While only three people are currently hospitalized in Vermont for the coronavirus, state health officials have been making a push to expand drug treatments available to doctors.

The University of Vermont Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, has tried some of these drugs on patients with more severe cases of the coronavirus, but they say most so far have been disappointing.

Some of the drugs that have made headlines as possible treatments for severely-ill COVID-19 patients are drugs designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. The theory was that those drugs that help regulate a patient's immune response could help COVID-19 patients avoid tissue damage caused by their body's overreaction to the virus.

But Dr. Gil Allen, the critical care director at UVMMC, says while the drugs don't seem to be hurting patients, they're also not showing that they help either.

"So far, there's been a lot of optimism for these drugs and a lot of evidence for testing them, but so far, not a lot of evidence to support using them on a widespread basis," Allen said.

He says that in addition to oxygen and fluids for patients who are really sick with COVID-19, they may also use Dexmethasone, a steroid that treats inflammation. And if a patient is severely ill, Remdesivir, an antiviral has also shown some benefit.

If a patient goes into multiple organ failure, Allen says they’ll look at some of the experimental immune therapies as part of a compassionate care plan.

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