Tuesday, August 18, 2020

4 changes doctors have made to better treat Covid-19 patients

Improved treatment options could help save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic.

 A patient wearing a helmet-based ventilator at a Houston-area hospital in late July. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

By Dylan Scott

Given the continued debate over (proven) tactics like social distancing and mask-wearing, and the reticence of some political leaders to take preemptive action to curb the disease’s spread, it’s not an unreasonable question.

But when I hear that question, the first thing I think about isn’t Zoom calls or isolating in a cabin or strapping on my mask before I walk into the grocery store. I think about remdesivir, dexamethasone, and prone positioning.

Because, in fact, doctors and nurses have learned a ton about the best medicine for treating Covid-19. It’s too soon to say exactly how many lives have been saved by gains in our collective knowledge, but some effect seems certain.

Coronavirus deaths have been rising again in the wake of this summer’s record spike in cases, but they have not reached the same heights seen in the spring. There are likely a few explanations for that trend. First, the US wasn’t testing enough in March or April to identify all of the Covid-19 cases then and so a “record” number of cases in June and July may have been a bit of a mirage. Younger people also made up a bigger share of cases in the summer wave, and they are less at risk of dying from the disease.

But the doctors and hospitals I’ve spoken with recently feel confident that improvements in their standards of care are having a meaningful effect, even if they are reluctant to put an exact number on it.  Read more >>