Local doctors ‘encouraged’ by Remdesivir results

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Hospitals in North Georgia and the Tennessee Valley now have a new weapon to combat the coronavirus.

Hospitals across the country are now issuing the drug Remdesivir to coronavirus patients. The drug was originally created for the Ebola pandemic. Now, studies show is could shorten the duration of COVID-19 symptoms and help patients recover faster.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has administered thousands of vials to around 85 hospitals in the state, including Dalton’s Hamilton Medical Center.

“It’s been huge,” said Dr. Lee Connor, an infectious disease specialist at Hamilton Medical Center. “We’ve had no options really other than giving the supplemental oxygen, making sure their fevers aren’t too high. It’s really nice to have a medication that may actually offer some benefit.”

The Hamilton Medical Center received their first shipment last weekend — and have already started treating patients.

“I think Remdesivir will help. It’s kind of a temporary thing until we can get a vaccine. I think ultimately that’s what we really need to have to really combat this,” Dr. Connor said.

Georgia hospitals aren’t the only ones receiving Remdesivir. While the state of Tennessee is still not distributing the drug like the state of Georgia is, local Tennessee hospitals can apply for doses from the drug’s manufacturer Gilead.

In fact, CHI Memorial in Chattanooga is treating a COVID patient right now with Remdesivir.

“I think it’s very encouraging, because we went from not having any specific medications that work, to having one that should shorten the duration of disease number one, and number two, that the mechanism makes sense,” said Dr. Carlos Baleeiro, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at CHI Memorial. “This is a medication that is an antiviral for viruses of the general type as coronavirus, so it sort of makes sense.”

So far, there are no statistics to show if Remdesivir helps with COVID-19’s mortality rates. However, Dr. Baleeiro says this is a step in the right direction.

“It’s not the end of the story, meaning it’s not going to be all of a sudden everyone will be cured with it,” Dr. Baleeiro said. “It’s more of the next phase of the pandemic that we will now have at least treatment, and we can start to see the better outcomes.”

Doctors encourage you to still be smart, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask when in a crowded environment.

Categories: Chattanooga, Dalton, Featured, Hamilton County, Health, Local News

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