As world approaches 10 million coronavirus cases, doctors see hope in new treatments
Dr. Gopi Patel recalls how powerless she felt when New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital overflowed with COVID-19 patients in March.
Guidance on how to treat the disease was scant, and medical studies were being performed so hastily they couldn’t always be trusted.
“You felt very helpless,” said Patel, an infectious disease doctor at the hospital. “I’m standing in front of a patient, watching them struggle to breathe. What can I give them?”
While there is still no simple answer to that question, a lot has changed in the six months since an entirely new coronavirus began sweeping the globe.
Doctors say they’ve learned enough about the highly contagious virus to solve some key problems for many patients. The changes could be translating into more saved lives, although there is little conclusive data.
Nearly 30 doctors around the world, from New Orleans to London to Dubai, told Reuters they feel more prepared should cases surge again in the fall.
“We are well-positioned for a second wave,” Patel said. “We know so much more.”
Doctors like Patel now have:
*A clearer grasp of the disease’s side effects, like blood clotting and kidney failure
*A better understanding of how to help patients struggling to breathe
*More information on which drugs work for which kinds of patients.
They also have acquired new tools to aid in the battle, including:
*Promising new treatments like convalescent plasma, antiviral drugs and steroids
*An evolving spate of medical research and anecdotal evidence, which doctors share across institutions, and sometimes across oceans.
Despite a steady rise in COVID-19 cases, driven to some extent by wider testing, the daily death toll from the disease is falling in some countries, including the United States. Doctors say they are more confident in caring for patients than they were in the chaotic first weeks of the pandemic, when they operated on nothing but blind instinct.
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