The world’s health authorities are working around the clock to try and find a potential cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. Unfortunately, experts predict that a vaccine will only be available at best, in early January 2021.
Meanwhile doctors and researchers have discovered that certain medicines used to treat other illnesses could potentially be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
The latest of these discoveries comes from Dr. Ryan Padgett from the Evergreen Health Medical Center in Seattle. Dr. Padgett recently contracted the coronavirus and his health quickly deteriorated, with both his lungs and kidneys failing, relying on medical equipment to keep him alive.
His condition had deteriorated to a point where his colleagues gave him no more than a week to live. Before completely giving up on Dr. Padgett, they decided to try out an experimental treatment that had been previously tested in China.
The treatment involved using a drug called ‘Actemra’ normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. One of the reasons they turned to this as a treatment was because it has been previously used to treat a phenomenon called ‘cytokine storm’. Put simply, a cytokine storm is when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and becomes too strong, eventually turning against the host’s body itself, doing more harm than good.
Shortly after receiving the Actemra treatment, Dr Padgett started to show promising signs of recovery, and was eventually taken off life support and left to breathe on his own, along with coming out of a sedated coma, eventually making a full recovery.
NEW: Dr. Ryan Padgett, an emergency department physician, was one of the first front-line health care workers in Washington to test positive for COVID-19. His story of survival could help doctors nationwide better understand the virus. (via @evanbush) https://t.co/KOEkvhDN6r
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) April 13, 2020
In an interview with LA Times, Padgett said- “This is a movie-like save, it doesn’t happen in the real world often. I was just a fortunate recipient of people who said, ‘We are not done. We are going to go into an experimental realm to try and save your life.’”
While this certainly does sound promising, it must be stressed that Actemra is by no means a cure for COVID-19.
Dr Pafgett’s story of recovery is simply anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that Actemra, or a number of other drugs could potentially be used to treat those who are in a critical state. More research will need to be conducted to see if this is a viable option to treating COVID-19 patients.