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Paris: The methods have become more numerous and sophisticated today than at the beginning of the epidemic crisis to treat the most serious cases of Covid-19, in a progress that would save lives, according to what French and American experts said.
Professor Eric Morey, president of the French Society for Resuscitation, confirms that “great progress has been made in this regard.”
“The chances of survival have greatly improved in the United States among all age groups,” adds Daniel Griffin, head of infectious diseases at Prohealth, a group of nearly 1,000 doctors from 22 hospitals in the New York area.
Medicines are the primary part of this improvement.
Since June, several studies have shown benefits of corticosteroids for people with serious injuries.
According to a series of research published on the second of September in the American medical journal “JAMA”, these drugs allow to reduce the risk of death by 21% after 28 days in severe cases, by treating the inflammation associated with the dangerous forms of the virus.
No other drug has shown such a noticeable effect in reducing the risk of death, which prompted the World Health Organization to recommend “the systematic use of corticosteroids in people with severe or critical disease”.
“It is a treatment that will save lives,” asserts the doctor at the Raymond Poincare hospital in Garche, in the suburb of Paris, Gilali Annan, who participated in one of these studies.
Another treatment that could change the equation is “giving anticoagulants earlier and at a faster pace,” according to Professor Marc Lyon of the French Society for Resuscitation. The goal is to avoid blood clotting, which is a dangerous complication of Covid-19.
In general, it can be said that “patients are treated with fewer targeted drugs,” according to Professor Griffin.
There is no need, then, to use hydroxychloroquine, which has been the focus of heated debate and whose effectiveness has not been proven by studies.
In addition to the pharmaceutical field, great progress has been made in the respiratory care of patients most affected by the virus who are in intensive care.
“At first, we were very quick to insert tubes, but today we try as much as we can to avoid it,” says Kirsten Henry, a nurse at Medstar Hospital in Olney (Maryland).
A tube is inserted into the windpipe to connect it to a ventilator. In some cases, this deep surgery is indispensable, but it is complicated and may lead to complications, including infections.
Professor Griffin recalls, “We soon noticed that the patients who were given a ventilator did not have an increased chance of survival.”
A study conducted in Germany, and its results were published at the end of July in the magazine “The Lancet”, showed that the mortality rate is 53% for Covid-19 patients who are placed on a ventilator, at an average rate for all age groups. As for those over the age of eighty, it rises to 72%.
An alternative to this technology is the treatment of large quantities of oxygen, which was invented almost 10 years ago and provides the patient with large quantities of oxygen through two tubes in the nose.
This treatment is “much more effective, less invasive and therefore easier to use than tube stitches,” says Professor Jean-Damien Ricard of the Louis-Morier Hospital in Colombes.
He conducted a study, the results of which were published in mid-July in the journal Intensive Care Medicine, that showed that oxygen therapy is better than tube insertion in some patients.
It is true that studies proving the benefits of all these technologies are recent, but these improvements were adopted some time ago based on monitoring and application in the medical field.
Professor Griffin notes, “A radical change of attitude took place between early March and early April regarding tube insertions, anticoagulants, corticosteroids and hydroxychloroquine. The procedures adopted in early April were the opposite of those applied the previous month. This is the prevailing approach today.”
“When a new epidemic appears, we do not know what to do at first, but soon knowledge flows from all sides,” explains Kirsten Henry.
Despite all these improvements, experts caution against being overly optimistic.
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