During a virtual press conference on Friday last, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony indicated that the government will be using an antiviral drug, Remdesivir on critical patients in an effort to decrease COVID-19 deaths.
According to Minister Anthony, the drug has been in use in the United States and it was able to decrease the severity of the disease in many patients, aiding them to recover better.
He further stated that Guyana was experiencing hardships in obtaining the drug since most of what is manufactured in the United States is utilized right there.
A federal study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health, showed that Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that can accelerate the recovery of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
In the study, it was found that hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received Remdesivir recovered faster than other patients who received placebo treatments.
The Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT) involved 1063 patients and began on February 21. It was the first clinical trial launched in the United States to assess an experimental treatment for COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony also mentioned that the Government of India would have donated 240 doses of the drug, which is just the first batch and they will be utilized in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as of this week.
Guyana would have recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 related deaths in the month of August, with the month recording the highest monthly number of deaths since the first case and death in March this year. Anthony lamented that the majority of COVID-19 patients who would have been admitted to hospitals were suffering from underlying conditions. Along with that, late diagnosis of the virus may have led to their conditions being worsened.
He stated, “Many of those patients who have died had varying diseases and in some cases, the reason why they were hospitalized – they started out when they came to the hospital, they had some other condition. We didn’t know they had COVID until they were tested.”
He stated that while it is unfortunate that some may have lost their lives, the Ministry has been making additional efforts such as utilizing more ventilators in the COVID-19 ICU at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
There would have been a shortage of ventilators at the GPHC but Anthony stated that, “We have 12 beds in that unit and we had four ventilators. Our aim is to have a ventilator at each bed, so now if anyone in that facility has respiratory distress, they will be able to have access to the relevant equipment.”
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