Supply for some COVID-19 treatments remain steady, others need a refill


The promising drug remdesivir will soon be commercially available to hospitals

FRESNO, California (KSEE) — We’re still far off from a vaccine, but more Central Valley COVID-19 patients are getting access to promising treatments.

Access to these treatments, like the antiviral medication remdesivir, has mostly been through drug trials. But, soon remdesivir will be more widely available. Good news for hospitals, as well as Fresno County as a whole — health officials saying with each new development they quickly work to find and secure a supply.

For months, doctors at UCSF-Fresno have been conducting a number of COVID-19 treatment trials, including one for remdesivir. Dr. Jeff Thomas, the Chief Quality and Medical Officer for Community Medical Centers, said many patients that have come through their emergency departments have been part of this and other trials.

“We were a part of the early study on remdesivir,” he said.

On a county level, a federal program has helped bring in hundreds of vials of the drug into hospitals on a weekly basis.

During Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing from the Fresno County Department of Public Health, interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra said the program is ending. However, it’s end comes as the drug’s manufacturer Gilead is making the drug commercially available.

“Hospital [will be able to] acquire it from the company themselves. We don’t feel there’s going to be a huge lapse [in treatment],” Vohra said. “In fact, there’s actually still remdesivir being left on the shelves because they still have supplies left to give to patients.”

When talking about other treatments, Vohra stressed the need for more plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients. So far, the Central California Blood Center reports close to 40 have donated their plasma. Ersilia Lacaze, the center’s marketing director, said that helped create 150 products for convalescent plasma treatment.

However, the supply is getting slim.

“If you’re one of the coronavirus patients that’s now on the recovering end of your illness, please please consider donating your plasma. You can certainly help a lot of people through your donation,” Vohra said.

You can find more information about donating plasma, like eligibility requirements, you can click here. Below you’ll find some of the requirements:

  • Documented prior diagnosis of COVID-19 by a lab test.
  • Symptom-free for 28 days.
  • Male or never have been pregnant.

Vohra adds the county has been keeping an eye on dexamethasone, a steroid showing promise in UK COVID-19 treatment trials. The Chief Medical Officer for Saint Agnes Medical Center, Dr. W. Eugene Egerton, said it has been used on some of their COVID-19 patients and the results have been promising.

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