Doctors: How treating COVID-19 has changed

Doctors say treatments lead to lower death rate
Hospital workers in WNY vaccinated for COVID-19 at the lowest rate in New York
Posted at 11:27 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 23:27:20-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Three Buffalo doctors, all of different specialties, said they have learned a lot about COVID-19 since March. They say these lessons and treatments have led to a lower mortality rate.

"We've learned a lot about COVID-19 in the last 10 months or so," Dr. Thomas Russo, the Professor and Chief of Infectious Disease at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo, said.

"We understand it better. We understand the course better. We understand the intervention and how to time them," Dr. Sanjay Sethi, Professor and Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo, said.

Dr. Russo and Dr. Sethi said over the past few months, medical professionals have developed methods of treating patients with COVID-19, yet there is still much more to learn. The current methods have successfully decreased the mortality rate in COVID-19 patients.

"We now have some treatments that are effective against the new coronavirus and fortunately decrease mortality," Dr. Russo said.

"Previously the world round death rate was like 1.5%, now we're talking about less than 1`%," Dr. Sethi said.

Doctors now use two drugs to treat COVID-19 patients.

"The first treatment is an anti-viral drug called Remdesivir. Although that doesn't decrease mortality, it does decrease the number of days that someone is ill in the hospital. The second drug is a steroid called Dexamethasone. Dexamethasone does decrease mortality significantly," Dr. Russo said.

Doctors are using ventilators differently.

"We try to delay intubation and putting them on a ventilator as much as possible. We try to maintain their oxigenization other ways," Dr. Sethi said.

There are also measures primary care physicians are taking, like helping COVID positive individuals manage their symptoms at home, which can lower the number of people going to the hospital to seek treatment.

"You don't want them going to the emergency room when it's things we can handle in a primary care setting," Dr. Raul Vazquez, a physician at Urban Family Practice, said, "Out of 100 people that may have it, 15% have to be there. But if you have 100 people showing up, and not carving away the other 85 could have been managed outside and would have had good outcomes, it's a recipe for disaster."

All three doctors said the treatments should keep the mortality rate, as long as the hospital system does not get overwhelmed. That is why Dr. Russo said it's best to never get sick in the first place.

"The use of masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene when appropriate will prevent the acquisition of the new coronavirus," Dr. Russo said.