Combating COVID-19 with therapeutics

Posted at 9:14 PM, Aug 23, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. - The coronavirus may be gaining ground across Virginia, but the fight against it is forging ahead.

Dr. Aaron Hartman is a physician with Family Practice Associates near Richmond. He’s also a clinical researcher who’s helping to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and has been tracking the virus since January.

Hartman said the ways of thinking on how to combat the illness have come a long way since the start of the pandemic.

“We see therapeutics advancing at a rapid rate,” he said. “We’re seeing vaccinations developing at a rapid rate. We’re seeing people’s involvement, so this is a very unique time, a unique situation.

According to Hartman, the mortality rate from COVID has decreased by 400 percent from about six months ago to now, largely in part to therapeutic medicine.

“If you were intubated in March with this disease, you had an 89 percent chance of dying; now it’s 23 percent,” Hartman said. “That’s never happened before in the history of the world. No one’s trumpeting that massive shift in mortality with this disease. We knew nothing about it in March, basically.”

Therapeutics deals with treating COVID with different forms of therapy or drugs.

“Typically, when someone comes into the hospital and the oxygen level is low, the first thing you do is intubate him,” he said. “What we learned with these COVID-19 patients is if they’re comfortable, even if their oxygen is low, just give them some oxygen, turn them on their stomach, they’ll actually be okay.”

Other promising therapeutics include treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma from someone who has fully recovered from the illness, and drugs like Dexamethasone and Remdesivir that Hartman says have helped to lower the risk of death.

Much of the research, he said has been leveraged from other countries, such as Italy and the UK.

“This whole thing with COVID is unique in that the whole world is involved,” said Hartman.

Beating COVID-19 has been a worldwide effort with everyone working toward a common goal.