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Remdisivir is only effective in early stages of coronavirus: doctor

A Tampa General Hospital doctor explains the earlier the medication can be given to COVID-19 patients, the better.

TAMPA, Fla. — You've probably heard of remdisivir, an anti-viral medication used for COVID patients. Gov. Ron DeSantis been working to get the therapy into our local hospitals.

But experts tell us there's a catch when it comes to this drug.

10 Investigates' Jennifer Titus spoke with the director of inpatient COVID Care at Tampa General Hospital, and he says the drug is really only effective if a patient gets it early on in their battle with coronavirus.

"Patients that come along 10, 15 or 20 days, they are more at an inflammatory phase at that point, not a viral phase. At that point the virus is out of control, their body is reacting to the virus and there is not much you can do from viral standpoint that can help with that," Dr. Andrew Myers explained.

The problem? Many patients aren't heading to the hospital for days after contracting COVID. 

Why? There could be multiple factors for this but one issue is in some counties in the Tampa Bay area it is still taking a week or more to get test results back confirming someone has the virus.

DeSantis did announce a few weeks back that rapid testing would be available at some testing sites meaning results would be back in 15 minutes.

We have reached out to the governor's office asking if those tests will be heading to the Tampa Bay area. They have not gotten back to us on those plans. 

Samantha Bequer with the Florida Division of Emergency Management did send us this email:

"The Division announced earlier this month that state-supported COVID-19 testing sites will prioritize testing for symptomatic individuals, individuals 65 and older and children under the age 18. This includes expanding symptomatic self-swab testing, adding antibody testing at all drive-thru sites and offering rapid COVID-19 testing to symptomatic individuals and those over the age of 65 at Hard Rock Stadium and Marlins Park.

"Since that announcement, rapid COVID-19 testing has been expanded to the testing site at the Fort Lauderdale War Memorial and the testing site at the Ballpark of Palm Beaches. The state is committed to ensuring accessible and reliable COVID-19 testing for Floridians. If a testing initiative at a state-supported site performs well, the state works to make that available at all sites. Examples include self-swab testing and antibody testing - both of these programs originally began with select state-supported sties and have since been expanded."

10 Investigates reached out to the DOH in each of our 10 Tampa Bay counties to find out how long on average it takes to get test results back. Here are the responses we received:

-Manatee County: 3-5 days to get COVID test results back, depending on which lab is reporting and how many people are tested.

-Sarasota County: Testing administered by DOH Sarasota and at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center are coming back within 36 to 72 hours.

-Pasco County: 5-7 days

-Polk County: 2-4 days

There are no specific treatments for COVID right now, however, there are several therapies that are being used on patients.

  • -You've heard of convalescent plasma, plasma taken from people who had COVID and recovered. According to Harvard Medical School, it has been used for more than 100 years to treat all types of illnesses from polio to measles and chickenpox.
  • -Vitamin D may protect against COVID-19, according to Harvard researchers. They say it may help boost our bodies' natural defense against viruses and bacteria and it may help prevent an exaggerated inflammatory response, which has been shown to contribute to severe illness in some people with COVID-19.
  • -A therapy you may not have heard as much about is dexamethasone. It is a class of steroids that lowers inflammation in the body. According to Harvard, a recent clinical trial showed it decreased the risk of dying in very ill, hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Click or tap here to see more on therapies from Harvard Medical School.

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