June 8, 2020

Background: Despite the initial excitement around the use of chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), there is mounting evidence that neither drug is effective in COVID-19 treatment. Laboratory studies have shown antiviral and immunomodulatory properties in vitro but these have not held up in clinical application. However, one potential area of use that needs more investigation is the use of HCQ for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). As the pandemic continues, PEP becomes an increasingly important topic in stopping repeat surges of the disease. To date, there is no high-quality evidence on prophylactic HCQ after exposure.

June 6, 2020

Background: Convalescent plasma therapy is not a new or novel therapeutic option.  It involves taking the plasma from patients who have recovered from an illness and using it to treat patients who currently have the same illness. This approach has been evaluated in the treatment of SARS, MERS, and ebola but, none of the studies in these disease showed definitive results.  Thus far, the amount of evidence on convalescent plasma therapy in COVID-19 is also limited.  There was a case series of 5 patients [2] and a systematic review of 5 trials with 27 patients [3]. Neither study was earth-shattering. However, both showed  improved weaning from mechanical ventilation and no adverse events in the convalescent plasma group.  With a total of 32 patients, we should not put any weight in either of these trials.  We now have our first randomized clinical trial on convalescent plasma therapy.

June 2, 2020

Background: We have covered the two previous RCTs on remdesivir on REBEL EM (RCT #1 and RCT #2). In the first trial by Wang et al [2], there was no statically significant improvement in clinical outcomes, but, there were trends toward shorter duration of illness. In the ACTT-1 preliminary report [3], despite all the methodological issues, there was a 4 day decrease in clinical improvement (although not in patients requiring HFNC/NIV/IMV/ECMO).  Neither trial was perfect, however in the middle of pandemic, a several day decrease in recovery time may be beneficial in reducing hospital crowding if the difference holds true in subsequent studies and if the correct target population is known.  We now have our 3rd RCT on remdesivir [1], just published in the NEJM comparing 5 days vs 10 days of remdesivir in patients with severe COVID-19.

May 31, 2020

I am fortunate to work in a hospital system that is very forward thinking.  We have a phenomenal relationship with our intensivists, and I have been fortunate enough to have several discussions with them about how we are managing COVID-19 in our ICUs.  For full transparency, I don’t work up in the ICU, but had the opportunity to discuss what we are doing in our ICUs with one of our intensivists (ECMO, steroids, Remdesivir, etc...).  We are doing something different in San Antonio that I thought was worth discussing on this podcast that may be a feasible option for some institutions and some patients, but not all. If there is one thing this disease has taught me, that is one size does not fit all.

May 30, 2020

Background: One of the hot topics in COVID-19 care is the mortality rate associated with invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV). There have been early reports of IMV having mortality rates ranging from 50 to 90%.  These high rates are concerning but, context is important; many of the reports emerged from areas with large surges where hospital systems were overwhelmed. Additional data looking at outcomes of critical patients is important particularly within systems that were able to maintain baseline critical care provisions despite surges.