DERRY TWP., Pa. - Health officials are shedding some light on a worldwide clinical trial that has come to Pennsylvania. Doctors said they hope they have what is essentially a one-two punch against COVID-19.
"That's a big deal for treating patients with COVID, because they tend to have very long hospital stays, and [to] help people recover and get out of the hospital more quickly is definitely a benefit for these patients," said Dr. Catharine Paules, an infectious disease specialist with Penn State Health, a health network that includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Dauphin County and St. Joseph Medical Center in Berks County.
Doctors said the drug, remdesivir, is showing promise in clinical trials, shortening the recovery time of COVID-19 patients. Now, they're adding another drug to go along with it, called baricitinib, which, they said, will dampen patients' immune response.
"There's a suggestion that in some patients with COVID, the immune response is actually why they get so sick," said Paules. "The goal will be to target the virus with remdesivir and the immune response with baricitinib."
Hershey is one of the few hospitals in the world participating in the trial. Doctors said they're encouraged by the results of the trials, so far, with the goal of decreasing deaths.
"Even though the study wasn't able to show a clear mortality benefit," Paules said, "there was a suggestion of one."
Health officials said the trial will end once it reaches 1,000 patients.