Then and Now: Where We Stand With COVID-19 Treatments One Year Later

An infectious disease specialist reflects on how treatments have evolved since the start of the pandemic.

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CLEVELAND – 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 Adarsh Bhimraj, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. 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 Dr. 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.

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