Great strides in treating COVID made over course of pandemic

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 6:23 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - As the pandemic evolved over the last two years, so did the science around it.

“When it first started, there really was only supportive care,” said Dr. Keith Collins, an infectious disease specialist at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.

Collins says back in March 2020, there wasn’t a whole lot doctors could do to help treat a patient who came in with COVID-19.

“All we could do when people first came in was give them oxygen essentially, and if they deteriorated to the point where they needed to be on a breathing machine, they went on a breathing machine,” Collins said.

From there, it took about six months for doctors and scientists to repurpose existing prescription drugs to start combating COVID symptoms.

“The remdesivir stops the virus from actually multiplying and the dexamethasone is supposed to stop the inflammation in the lung,” Collins explained.

Fast forward two years and Paxlovid hits the market. The drug is specifically designed to fight COVID in your body and it significantly decreases the chances of hospitalization.

“It’s a pill and it’s considered to be essentially the best drug against COVID that we have right now,” Collins said.

He says the downside is you must take the pill within three days of the onset of symptoms for it to work best.

“The timing of when you do something is as important as what you do,” Collins said.

COVID treatment drugs are still in high demand and the supply is limited.

Drugs like Paxlovid are available in the North Country but there is a list of requirements patients have to meet in order to get a prescription.

“Unvaccinated, over 75; unvaccinated and have health issues; or vaccinated but not expected to respond to a vaccine,” Collins said.

He expects the supply of the drug to increase, making it easier to access.

Looking ahead, Collins says the Biden administration is working on a test-to-treat program that would skip the doctor’s office altogether and get you the medication needed right at the pharmacy where you get your test.

He says all of this medical advancement in less than two years is nothing short of incredible.

“It’s amazing to me that they were able to get this done so quickly,” he said. “It truly is.”

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