Then and now: Where we stand with COVID-19 treatments

A medic wearing full protective gear works with a patient on oxygen support in the COVID-19 ward at a the General Hospital in the capital Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday, March 18, 2021. As Bosnia faces soaring coronavirus infections and rapidly-filling hospitals, two doctors from Turkey have arrived in Sarajevo to help and offer their insight in the treatment of COVID-19. Bosnia is seeing a huge rise in infections and hospitalizations after a period of relaxed measures and the winter season that saw ski resorts staying open unlike in most of Europe. (AP Photo) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

It’s hard to believe that more than a year ago the United States was dealing with its first-ever case of COVID-19. In that time a lot has changed, including how doctors treat patients hospitalized with the virus.

“Today, unfortunately, we don’t have a cure or a highly effective therapy. Nothing like penicillin for streptococcal bacterial infections, but we do have a lot of treatments which have some modest benefits,” said Dr. Adarsh Bhimraj, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic.

Bhimraj helped create the latest treatment guidelines for the Infectious Disease Society of America.

He said at the start of the pandemic, researchers were experimenting with all kinds of medications.

However, many of those drugs have been put back on the shelf, like hydroxychlroiquine, which received a lot of attention in the news but turned out to be ineffective.

So, what are they using for treatment currently? He said steroids have proven to be beneficial for those who are sick enough. There are also anti-viral drugs, like remdesivir, that can help shorten the duration of symptoms.

He said while doctors continue to look for the best treatments for COVID-19, prevention is still just as important.

“We should still be cautious and we should still be prepared. I think it’s not yet time to take our masks down and have mass gatherings, things like that. Social distancing is important, wearing a mask is important. Making sure that we all are vaccinated, I think, is important,” said Bhimraj.

He said COVID-19 is a complex virus with a wide range of symptoms, so it’s been challenging for researchers to find a one-size-fits-all treatment.