What doctors have learned about fighting COVID-19

(Reuters) – In the six months since an entirely new coronavirus began to spread worldwide, doctors and hospitals have learned a great deal about how to treat patients with COVID-19, the life-threatening illness caused by the virus.

La Paz hospital staff take a minute of silence to remember Joaquín Díaz, the chief of surgery at the hospital who died of COVID-19, in the midst of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Madrid, Spain, April 20, 2020. REUTERS / Susana Vera

What doctors have learned about fighting COVID-19:

* Patients are at increased risk for blood clots, and blood thinners may help.

* “Predicting” – turning patients upside down to relieve pressure on the lungs – can avoid the need for mechanical ventilation.

* In addition to the respiratory system and lungs, the coronavirus can attack many other organs, including the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain.

* The most promising treatments so far seem to be antiviral remdesivir; dexamethasone, a steroid to treat the body’s inflammatory response to COVID-19; and plasma donated by patients who have antibodies against the disease.

* More widespread testing and faster results help ease pressure on hospitals.

* The exchange of information between health professionals worldwide is crucial.

* Prevention is critical. Doctors trust the public to do their part with good hygiene, masks, and social distancing.

Some of the biggest unknowns:

* Exactly what treatments will work for which patients.

* How quickly some treatments will obtain a general distribution, especially remdesivir.

* How long will it take for COVID-19 patients to recover.

* The long-term effects of the infection.

“If the best lesson we have learned is to put patients on their stomachs instead of their backs,” said Valory Wangler, medical director of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services in Gallup, New Mexico, “it means that we are far from a cure. miraculous. ”

Deena Beasley Reports: Editing by Marla Dickerson and William Mallard

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