A Closer Look at Treatments for COVID-19
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, there were few options available to health care providers who were trying to treat COVID-positive patients except to provide supportive care, such as fluids and oxygen when indicated. However, after several months of fighting the virus, this has changed. Lydia Watson, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer at MidMichigan Health, helps to answer some common questions on the different ways to help fight the illness and save lives.
Q. Are there any treatments available for COVID-19?
A. As we continue to learn more about COVID-19, new treatment options have become available. One of the newest treatment options available is produced by Lilly, bamlanivimab, or BAM. In fact, MidMichigan Health is currently offering this treatment to COVID-19 positive patients who meet the criteria. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, ask your health care provider if you may be a candidate to receive this treatment.
Q. What is BAM?
A. BAM is a monoclonal antibody that attaches to the coronavirus and prevents it from entering into cells in our body. BAM was recently approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA. The medication is intended for COVID-19 positive patients who are not hospitalized, but who are at high risk for developing severe symptoms or requiring hospitalization. Patients receive it by IV infusion.
Q. Are there other medications that can be used to treat COVID-19?
A. Another medication that has been used is Remdesivir, which is an FDA-approved antiviral drug. MidMichigan Health has been using Remdesivir since the spring. Remdesivir works by blocking the virus from replicating in the body, and may help patients who are hospitalized with moderate or severe COVID-19 be able to go home quicker. However, the medication doesn’t appear to have an effect on patients who are on high-flow oxygen or a ventilator.
Q. Are COVID-19 positive patients receiving oxygen as part of their treatment?
A. Supplemental oxygen use is standard if a patient is suffering from low oxygen levels, which can occur in some severe cases of COVID-19.
Q. How do I know if I should be receiving any of these treatments if I am COVID-19 positive?
A. If you’ve received a positive COVID-19 test, the most important thing to do is to contact your health care provider for direction regarding any type of treatment. They will be able to work with you to determine what course of treatment, if any, is best suited to you.
Q. I’ve had COVID-19, and have now recovered. Is there anything that I can do to help?
A. Yes. MidMichigan Health is asking individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 to consider donating their plasma, also known as convalescent plasma, which may help patients currently fighting COVID-19. As a result of your infection, your plasma now contains COVID-19 antibodies, which is one way your immune system fought the virus when you were sick. Your plasma is now known as convalescent plasma and this plasma may be beneficial to those infected with COVID-19. The donation could possibly save a life. Those interested in more information or wishing to become a donor may visit www.versiti.org/home/convalescent-plasma-donations.
As a service to the community, MidMichigan Health hosts a COVID-19 informational hotline with a reminder of CDC guidelines and recommendations. Staff is also available to help answer community questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hotline can be reached toll-free at (800) 445-7356 or (989) 794-7600. Inquiries can also be sent to MidMichigan Health via Facebook messenger at www.facebook.com/midmichigan.
Those interested in a current list of COVID-19 testing site locations may visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirustest.