Great strides in treating COVID have been made during the pandemic

PLATTSBURGH, NY (WCAX) – As the pandemic has evolved over the past two years, so has the science surrounding it.

“At first it was really just supportive care,” said Dr. Keith Collins, an infectious disease specialist at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.

Collins says that in March 2020, there was little doctors could do to help treat a patient who came in with COVID-19.

“All we could do when people first came in was basically give them oxygen, and if they deteriorated to the point where they needed to be on a ventilator, they would go on a ventilator,” said Collins.

From there, it took doctors and scientists about six months to repurpose existing prescription drugs to begin battling COVID symptoms.

“Remdesivir stops the virus from multiplying, and dexamethasone is supposed to stop inflammation in the lungs,” 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 essentially the best COVID medicine we have right now,” Collins said.

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

“When you do something is as important as what you do,” Collins said.

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

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

“Unvaccinated, over 75; unvaccinated and having health problems; or vaccinated but should not respond to a vaccine,” Collins said.

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

Looking ahead, Collins says the Biden administration is working on a test-to-treat program that would bypass the doctor’s office altogether and get you the necessary medications directly from the pharmacy where you take your test.

He says all of this medical progress in less than two years is just amazing.

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

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