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Race to treat and prevent COVID-19

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Two months into the pandemic health care professionals are still working to identify treatments and preventative measures for COVID-19.

Dr. Jeff Harp of Highland Family Medicine discussed the latest efforts Wednesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“There are still no medications which have been shown to be effective in treating or preventing COVID-19 disease,” said Dr. Harp.  Most major public health organizations and infectious disease societies have statements to this effect on their websites.

Dr. Harp said there are several reasons why someone may have received medication.  “Early on in the pandemic we had little medical information to guide us.  Some patients were treated, often when severely ill, in hopes that the medication would help without having firm evidence that it was likely to help.  This is called ‘off-label’ use of a medication.  What that means is that the medication is approved to treat other illnesses, not COVID-19, and is being tried as a treatment for COVID-19.  The first medications used were chosen based on the way they work in relation to what we knew about COVID-19 at the time.”

From the beginning of the pandemic, health care professionals have been conducting studies to determine whether certain medications are effective.  Patients may have been part of one of these studies. Two examples are hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir.  Rochester hospitals are involved in some of those studies.  Dr. Harp noted hydroxychloroquine is being studied as a medication to prevent infection.  Many of those studies involve health care workers only.  At least one is being done locally.

With no proven treatment or cure for COVID-19, individuals can contribute to research efforts by looking up clinical trials, reviewing the qualifications, and volunteering if they are qualified for the study.  Dr. Harp added that the best thing we can do is maintain the hygiene, protection (masking), and social distancing that we have all learned to do these past weeks.

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