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Clinical trial for mild Covid-19 cases

A new clinical trial rolling out in the Kansas City area looks to find a treatment for mild cases of Covid-19.

Posted: Sep 23, 2020 9:21 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) "We as physicians want to have all of the tools to be able to treat our patients," says Dr. Mario Castro, Vice Chair for Clinical and Translational Research at KU Med Center.

Right now, doctors say they just don't have what they need to fight Covid-19.

"One of the things we as physicians treating this have struggled with is, we can support you but we don't have any active treatment other than on the inpatient side," says Dr. Castro. "We have Remdesivir. We have Dexamethasone."

But nothing exists to help with the patients that have mild symptoms. The ones told to go home and isolate.

"We would like something like Tamifulu for influenza," says Dr. Dana Hawkinson, Director of Infectious Disease and Prevention at KUMC. "Or like an antibiotic for a sinus infection or a urinary tract infection that we can give to people to help prevent hospitalization."

KU Med is rolling out a new study called Activ 2. The study will test a drug manufactured from a Covid patient's antibodies. It's part of a series of trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. It's a one time dose administered in a 60-minute IV infusion. 

And KU Med is looking for participants with an active Covid-19 infection to participate.

"Those little spikes that are around that Covid-19, that's the spike protein that the monoclonal antibody is made to," says Dr. Castro.

This drug is a treatment not a vaccine. 

Vaccine's prepare the body's immune system to fight off infections. A vaccine gives you a small taste of the virus and in response your body builds up antibodies.

"Your body has to develop antibodies," says Dr. Castro. "Your body's immune system has to be intact. You have to think about weeks to develop that response. The monoclonal antibody is as soon as you get it, you have the antibodies to protect you."

Treatments on the other hand come in when we are already infected to help us survive, recover more quickly, or lessen our symptoms. 

"If I'm a physician at a nursing home and I get one case, I want to start treating that case right away," says Dr. Castro. "I don't want to wait for that patient to develop antibodies."

The scientific community says a variety of tools--vaccines and treatments--are needed to fight the virus.

Dr. Steve Stites, Chief Medical Officer at KUMC says, "You may survive it but your life may never be the same. You may have long standing lung disease, you may have structural lung damage, structural heart damage, you may have neuro-cognitive problems. It's just not influenza."

Because even a mild case can have serious consequences.

"There are people who are at home with a mild Covid case and they have sudden death, either from an arrhythmia or a blood clot," warns Dr. Stites. "We just saw one of those recently and so this is not friendly and so even if you think, 'oh I'm at home I didn't have to go to the hospital', you can still die from this."

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