Infectious disease specialist talks fight on COVID-19 front line, treatments

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By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, advancements are being made in the treatment of COVID-19. One infectious disease specialist spoke to KYW Newsradio about efforts on the front lines.

Dr. Lawrence Livornese, the chairman of medicine for the Main Line Health System and an infectious disease specialist, said while they have learned more about COVID-19 treatment during the pandemic, they only have one approved treatment for it.

"That would be remdesivir," he said. "In addition to that, we have a number of agents that have been received emergency usage authorizations and the third group are all kind of supportive therapies. The largest would be steroids."

When asked if vitamins were included in their treatments, he said that wasn't a routine option.

"I will say there is a lot variability about that. I am aware of some health systems that are trying to use supplements as treatments and this is a purely, I think, experimental intervention based on either small studies or extrapolating basic science facts and often times this is how progress in medicine happens," he said.

"Someone sees something and realizes there might be some benefit here. But while it is being studied, physicians who don't have any definitive information on it are forced to make a decision whether that intervention makes sense or not. And in that situation you have to be careful."

Livornese also discussed the frustration health professionals feel as they try to deal with not exactly knowing who will or will not survive.

"That is something that stresses all health care workers. We are just starting to get an inkling of how to predict who is going to have better or worse outcomes with COVID," he admitted.

"I think we recognize the older you are, the worse you are going to do. If you have a (body mass index) over over 35, if you have certain other medical conditions, you are going to have a poor outcome. If you look at all healthy 40-year-olds, the majority of them do well but a small percentage of them can end up with overwhelming infection and die. We do not have the ability to single out that person and say perhaps we should be doing something more for them."

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