National Post (National Edition)
TREATMENT OF COVID - 1 9
Even as the vaccines are rolling out, people will still have the potential of contracting COVID-19. There are still so many unanswered questions about what exactly the vaccine can and cannot do, so treatments of other sorts are still in the works.
Associate professor of medicine and director of the McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research, Donald Arnold, is one of the co-principle investigators of Canada's convalescent plasma trial.
Convalescent plasma uses blood from people who have recovered from an illness to help others recover by gaining their protective antibodies — a potential new therapeutic for COVID-19.
“This is coming at the virus from a different way. It's almost boosting the patient's own immune system by giving them additional antibodies,” Arnold said. “Like a foot soldier to essentially fight off the infection.”
The trial has been heading in the right direction, but because of a need for patients, they're running out of plasma. “We're 100 per cent reliant on people who have had the infection and have recovered to become blood donors,” he said. This is essential to running the trial and figuring out whether or not it works.
Until such therapeutics come to market, there remain only a few drugs that are working for the most severe COVID-19 cases: Dexamethasone is a steroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory, and has proven effective on the sickest patients; and remdesivir is an antiviral that can prevent the virus from replicating in a person with severe infection.
Unfortunately, “we need more than that,” Arnold said. The plasma trial could be an important step toward an easily accessible, proper treatment of COVID-19.
In terms of non-pharmaceutical treatments, proning has been deemed effective in hospitals because it reduces the high demand for ventilators. This is the process of turning a patient from their back to their stomach to improve oxygenation. It came in handy when ventilator stock was low.