If You Get Covid-19, Here Are the Current Treatments Available
Outcomes are improving, but many people don’t get the therapies they need
Scientists and doctors have made significant progress in treating Covid-19. But the available therapies are few, the evidence for each is at least somewhat mixed, and they all have considerable limitations. Meanwhile, many Americans at the greatest risk for the worst outcomes don’t have access to key therapies that only work early on to help prevent severe symptoms and hospitalization.
“We are much better off than we were last spring,” says Manish Sagar, MD, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center and associate professor of medicine and microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine. “We have a number of proven treatments, and we have much more expertise about how to deal with the disease. If you were infected last March as compared to if you were infected today and you, unfortunately, were in the group that was likely to have severe complications, your likelihood of surviving is much higher now than it was back in March.”
Yet many hospitals don’t have the necessary equipment to administer some of the helpful therapies nor the range of specialists to share expertise in fields as diverse as infectious disease, pulmonology, hematology, and rheumatology, says Paul Sax, MD, clinical director of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
One persistent challenge: As with other respiratory viruses like the flu, there’s been almost no progress treating Covid-19 on an outpatient basis — before a person is sick enough to go to the hospital.
“We’ve made most of the major progress on the inpatient side,” Sax tells Elemental.
Given Covid-19’s impact on multiple bodily systems and organs and with new research papers being published daily, no single doctor or researcher can fully grasp all the nuances of the proven and prospective therapies.
The rest of us can be excused for being totally bewildered. But armed with some basic facts, a Covid-19 patient or loved one can ask helpful questions to make sure all viable options are discussed.