LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Though a COVID-19 vaccine could be released by year’s end or soon after, healthcare professionals say getting it to everyone who needs it is expected to take over a year.
Right now, thousands are hospitalized with the virus nationwide, which is why UofL Health - Jewish Hospital is thrilled to have the first patient in a national COVID-19 treatment study. The first sick Louisville patient hospitalized from COVID-19 was not only part of the Phase 2 trial for the drug Quellor, but the 65-year-old has also already been released.
Quellor is a medication believed to prevent the progression of immune pulmonary complications from the virus.
“We gave one dose, the patient felt better and the patient has gone home," UofL Health - Jewish Hospital Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Naresh Solankhi told WAVE 3 News.
Solankhi said the patient was short of breath, felt sick, and had asthma before being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. They also had diabetes and pneumonia.
While the quick turnaround certainly sounds like the patient got the drug, the Quellor trial is a double-blind trial, meaning drugs and placebos are used on patients, but neither the administrators nor the patients know who was given what.
“We actually don’t know if the patient got the drug or the placebo," Dr. RJ Tesi, the CEO and president of clinical-stage immunology company INmune Bio, explained.
Researchers know a unique detail about the coronavirus is as some patients are sick enough to go to the hospital, the immune system’s response is so extreme that it can make a patient sick enough to kill them.
Tesi said the goal of the healthcare professionals and researchers part of the Quellor trial is to answer one question.
“How do we allow the patient’s immune system to continue to do the work it needs to do to clean up the virus," Tesi said, “but at the same time make it so the patient starts to get better, faster?”
Quellor is said to target what is known as the cytokine storm, a severe immune reaction that can be measured in the blood.
Researchers also now know getting rid of blood clots is huge in fighting COVID-19, which is something Quellor also does.
“I strongly believe when they write the history to the pandemic, the major villain to the virus, at least the patients that are hospitalized and die, will be those patients that had problems with blood clots," Tesi explained.
Besides Louisville, the Phase 2 Quellor study will enroll up to 366 COVID-19 patients in multiple hotspots around the country.
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