Lowcountry Physician hopeful new COVID-19 treatments could help hospitals in next surge

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry doctors are hoping that new treatments could help assist COVID-19 cases from becoming deadly during the expected winter surge. While leaders with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said the treatments will assist in managing symptoms, doctors stress that it does not replace the need for theCOVID-19 vaccine ahead of the colder weather.

Dr. Michael Sweat, the Director of MUSC’s Center for Global Health said he is concerned for the winter as the state and Lowcountry continues to have lower vaccination rates. 

We’ve been through wave after wave here in our area and when we carefully analyze what is going on in other parts of the world and other parts of the country, there is a significant chance we are going to see an increased chance of rates of infections occurring as we get into the winter months. 

Dr. Michael Sweat, Director MUSC Center for Global Health 

The chance could be curved with the F-D-A’s approval of three different drugs that are showing promising results. Pfizer says its new anti-viral pill, Pxlowvid, reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults.

A drug by Merck called Molnupiravir could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized,  while a third drug called Fluvoxamine is currently used to treat obsessive-compulsive disease. Fluvoxamine could be available now through off-label prescriptions by physicians but is not yet approved by the FDA for use in COVID-19 patients.

All of the drugs would be needed to be taken within days of the onset of symptoms and can reduce viral loads, making it very likely that those who take the medications will not become contagious to other people.

Giving hope to hospital systems that a new normal could come. 

If we could get the burdens on the hospital system down, reduce serious illness and mortality, it would be really a breakthrough. 

Dr. Michael Sweat, Director MUSC Center for Global Health 

According to Dr. Sweat, the Biden Administration plans to buy 10 million doses of Pfizer’s pill, and the Merck pill will undergo the FDA approval process by the end of the month.

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