Potential COVID-19 Treatments 'Game Changers,' says WRH Chief of Staff

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Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad says two potential treatments in the fight against COVID-19 could be, "game changers."

On Friday, officials announced double-blind studies showed the blood thinner heparin and the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine helped prevent COVID-19 symptoms from reaching critical levels.

Doctor Saad says the hospital participated in the Anti-Coronavirus Therapy (ACT) Trial and was actually the first centre to sign up a patient to the blood thinner study.

He says heparin is an intravenous drug that needs to be supervised, so it could be used for inpatients to prevent the illness from needing intensive care.

"We have some treatments for them in the ICU including steroids, but if you can actually prevent them from going to the ICU by giving them this blood thinner that's widely available and prevent 20 to 40 per cent of those people from ending up in the ICU on a ventilator it's a game changer for sure."

The oral drug colchicine is also widely available and could be used for outpatients to keep them from needing hospitalization at all, according to Saad.

"Around the 30 to 40 per cent range of potential to reduce subsequent hospitalization if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 in the community when given this drug," says Saad.

While randomized double-blind studies are the strongest indicator of a drug's effectiveness, he says the results still need to be peer reviewed.

"If either of those drugs are deemed to be as good as they are in these preliminary findings, then they're going to start being included in the treatment orders at the hospital and the broader community and physicians will start prescribing it," he says.

Doctor Saad says it could still be weeks before they're approved for regular use. He expects additional resources to be applied to ensure a peer review is done quickly and safely.

The hospital is treating 46 patients for COVID-19 with 14 of those patients in the ICU as of Sunday night.