Spotlight on How Chicago Hospitals Are Treating COVID-19 – NBC Chicago

Following the death of a Chicago COVID patient at the center of a debate around the use of the drug ivermectin, NBC 5 takes a look at treatment methods currently in use in local hospitals.

At Northwestern Medicine, Dr Benjamin Singer says treatment is decided between the attending physician, the patient and their family.

“At Northwestern, we have a very high bar for donating drugs that can be harmful,” said Singer, who is the attending physician for Northwestern Memorial’s medical and COVID ICU. “Ivermectin falls squarely into the category where there is no evidence that it helps people with COVID-19. At the same time, there is not enough evidence that the doses that might be needed are safe to use, especially in people who are ill in intensive care. ”

Ivermectin is FDA approved to treat certain infections caused by parasites but has not been approved for use in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19, which is a virus caused by SARS-CoV-2.

“The mere fact that a drug works for one condition, and can be safe in one condition, is insufficient evidence for us to use it widely in another condition in patients who are much, much sicker with very much disease. different, ”Singer said.

Northwestern Medicine offers the use of monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-made molecules that act as surrogate antibodies, as part of the FDA Emergency use authorization.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr Allsion Arwady said monoclonal antibodies are one of the best treatments available for those who qualify.

“Monoclonal antibodies are a treatment that is available very early on if a person has been infected with COVID and is at very serious risk of becoming very ill, being hospitalized or even dying from COVID,” Arwady said.

Rush University Medical Center, Cook County Health, Advocate Aurora Health, and UI Health are also currently using monoclonal antibodies to treat early illness.

All five health systems, including Northwestern, also use Remdesivir, a fully FDA-approved antiviral drug, for patients who are hospitalized but not on life support. Steroids like dexamethasone are used on the most seriously ill patients who require a ventilator or ECMO.

“This is largely determined by where they are at during their illness,” said Dr. Singer.

In response to an NBC 5 request regarding the use of ivermectin and other treatments for COVID-19, Rush said he “has been developing and updating treatment guidelines since March 2020”.

“When we make changes, they are based on new research, data and bibliographic searches. We also use NIH guidelines which are regularly updated,” Rush continued in a statement.

Cook County Health told NBC 5, “Ivermectin is not, and has never been, part of Cook County Health’s COVID-19 treatment guidelines. Currently, there is not enough data to prove that this is an effective treatment option, and it has not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. “

Attorney Aurora Health says in part that he has “issued a prescribing alert to all physicians that reinforced the recommendation of the FDA, CDC, National Institutes of Health and the Infectious Disease Society of America against the use of ivermectin in humans for the treatment of COVID-19 infection. as well as our support for physicians in denying all patient requests for ivermectin for COVID-19 infection based on evidence-based prescribing practices. “

Dr Singer recognizes that more treatment options are needed and says current drugs could be reused in the future, but stresses the need for more testing.

“To use them, we need evidence, we need solid data, it’s both safe and effective,” Singer said.

Many health officials agree that the best treatment is prevention.

“The best way to lower your risk of serious illness is to get yourself vaccinated,” said Dr. Isaac Ghinai, medical director of testing at the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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