As Wisconsin hospitalizations for COVID-19 rise, Mayo Clinic doctors are optimistic about new treatments – Community News
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As Wisconsin hospitalizations for COVID-19 rise, Mayo Clinic doctors are optimistic about new treatments

As the number of available intensive care beds plummets to near zero in many regions of Wisconsin, doctors at the Mayo Clinic Health System say they are hopeful that new oral, antiviral pills seeking federal approval may shorten the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus. pandemic can change.

At a media briefing Monday, top doctors with Mayo said their ability to use therapeutic treatments for hospitalized COVID-19 patients is improving.

dr. Andrew Badley is a professor of infectious diseases and chair of the health system’s COVID-19 task force. He said new oral therapies, seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration, known as Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, show promise in clinical trials, although there are concerns about the safety of molnopiravir with regard to pregnancy.

Badley said Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer, targets at the molecular level an enzyme in the virus that causes COVID-19 and interferes with its ability to grow and replicate itself.

“It has a nearly 90 percent — 89 percent — ability to prevent hospitalization and death in high-risk people,” Badley said.

The FDA is still considering an authorization for Paxlovid.

Badley said Molnupiravir, developed by drug makers Merck and Ridgeback, has reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 30 percent. An FDA advisory panel narrowly voted in favor of an emergency use authorization for the drug on Nov. 30.

dr. Raymond Razonable is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and vice president for the infectious disease division of the health system. Razonable has led Mayo’s monoclonal antibody treatment program.

“Our program has delivered nearly 20,000 infusions of monoclonal antibodies since we began in November 2020, and we have seen remarkable results in terms of reducing the risk of hospitalization and progression to serious disease,” Razonable said.

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Badley said the oral, antiviral drugs approved by the FDA could change the game for hospitals because they don’t need to be given intravenously and don’t require the same cold storage requirements as some of the current monoclonal antibody drugs.

He said a scientific issue that needs to be understood before the widespread use of antiviral pills is rolled out is whether they can cause the coronavirus to mutate and become more resistant to the therapies. Badleys said that hasn’t happened with COVID-19, “possibly because treatment courses are short.”

“I think there’s tremendous opportunity for these oral antivirals, which I call first-generation oral antivirals, as well as future-generation oral antivirals, to really change the trajectory of the pandemic,” Badley said.

Badley and Razonable were asked whether the emerging treatments would be effective against the newly discovered omicron variant of COVID-19. They said more clinical evidence is needed, but they suspect drugs that don’t target the virus’s spike protein will be effective. The two also said vaccination against COVID-19 will likely be one of the main means of protection against omicron, along with wearing masks indoors – regardless of vaccination status.

As the FDA reviews new treatment options for COVID-19, Wisconsin hospitals are dealing with a surge of people in need of treatment.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Monday afternoon, 1,562 people had been hospitalized in the state for COVID-19. That’s an increase of 130 over the past week. There were 407 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in the state on Monday. Hospitals in the Fox Valley area reported having two intensive care beds available. Hospitals in the North-Central region reported one available IC bed. There were three IC beds available in Northwestern Wisconsin and zero IC beds in Western Wisconsin.

As of Monday, a New York Times ranking of United States states and territories with the highest increase in viral transmission ranks Wisconsin fifth in the nation, with a 20 percent increase in cases in the past two weeks.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 3,548 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 2 — the last day DHS updated their coronavirus dashboard — and the seven-day average of new cases was 3,548 on Dec. 2.

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