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A Year in Review: A look at COVID-19 treatments

The warp speed effort to develop new therapies is still in full swing.

CLEVELAND — A year ago, doctors desperately tried to figure out how to fight coronavirus to save lives. There was no proven method to help those in the hospital and often it was treatment trial and error.  

Today, the warp speed effort to develop new therapies is still in full swing. 

Ivermectin is getting a lot of buzz. It’s a cheap anti-parasitic drug that’s easily available globally. A few small studies showed some promise. 

Merck makes it and issued a statement early last month saying there’s no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies; and there’s a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies. Yet, many are still pushing for it.

“It’s really concerning to take one study and say this is it we know the answer and that’s what’s happening with Ivermectin,” says Dr. Grace McComsey, VP of Research and Chief Science Officer for University Hospitals.

There are more than three dozen studies testing Ivermectin and Dr. McComsey said it’s best to wait for official results.

“Research is important because it will clarify if it’s really effective and if it’s safe to take because now we don’t know how much to give,” Dr. McComsey said.

UH has 200 clinical trials looking into COVID treatments. She’s seeing potential with those that reduce inflammation, including some arthritis drugs that may be helpful.

“It was an eight percent decrease in mortality. Is it a splash, a great advance? No, but we figure it should work because it dampens inflammation,” Dr. McComsey said.

But what about those old treatments that made headlines?  Like the monoclonal antibody treatment given to former President Trump?    

“Now with the new strains, whether the South African, the Brazilian, those two that I mentioned seem to be the worst and the some of the older monoclonal antibodies don’t work against them,” Dr. McComsey said.

And remember all the COVID survivors who donated plasma to help those in the hospital get the needed antibodies?

“Initially, it seemed like a good idea. You get convalescent plasma, you clear it, you put it in people’s blood and it clears the infection. Results have not been as encouraging,” Dr. McComsey said.

Even though it seems like the pandemic will never end, science now has much better ways of attacking it medically and they’re only going to improve. 

UH is still looking for people to become involved in clinical trials. Click here for more.

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Editor's Note: The below story aired on March 1, 2021