Gov’t hoping to reduce COVID-19 deaths with use of antiviral drug

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Guyana’s COVID-19 deaths have increased significantly in the month of August with the total now at 46.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony on Friday said this may be as a result of late diagnosis but medical professionals will begin using the Remdesivir drug on critical patients this week which he hopes will result in patients recovering.

“As we know, with the use of Remdesivir in the United States, one of the things that we have seen it has been able to shorten the severity of the disease and people who have benefitted from this treatment, many of them have been able to recover, hopefully, we can get the same results here in Guyana,” the Minister said during a virtual press conference on Friday.

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug which a federal study found can hasten the recovery in hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

He disclosed that Guyana was getting a hard time accessing the drug since most of what is manufactured in the United States is utilised there.

However, the Government of India donated its first batch of “240 doses and this would be used in the infectious ICU as of this week.”

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony

Dr Anthony told reporters that the doctors here have already decided on the protocol to use the drug which will benefit critically ill patients.

Guyana’s COVID-19 deaths jumped from 23 on August 16 to 46 on September 04.

In fact, the Ministry reported two new deaths on Friday – an 82 -year-old woman from Region Four and a 47-year-old woman from Region One died after testing positive for the virus.

According to the Minister, the majority of the patients who visit the hospital suffer from underlying conditions and late diagnosis of COVID-19 may have led to the deterioration of their conditions.

“Many of those patients who have died had varying diseases and in some cases, the reason why they were hospitalised [is] they started out when they came to the hospital, they had some other conditions…We didn’t know they had COVID until they were tested,” Dr Anthony noted.

He said it is “unfortunate” that persons are losing their lives.

The Ministry is also using more ventilators in the COVID-19 ICU at the Georgetown Hospital.

Minister Anthony highlighted that previously the ICU had insufficient ventilators.

“We have 12 beds in that unit and we had four ventilators. As of two days ago, with the donation from the Government of India, we have been able to rectify that situation and our aim is to have a ventilator at each bed, so now if anyone in that facility has respiratory distress, they will be able to have access to the relevant equipment.”

The Health Minister explained that the protocol for utilising the ventilators has also changed.

“Before we intubate someone, there are certain clinical guidelines that we follow and a number of other parameters that are looked at. Once the patient would meet a set of criteria, they would be placed on a ventilator, once one is available. That we have now changed because we have more ventilators that are available and, in that sense, those who need a ventilator would be able to get a ventilator,” Dr Anthony said.

Minister Anthony stated that an analysis has been done on all the regional hospitals and their isolation areas and an infectious disease unit will be set up at each facility.

As of Friday, Guyana recorded 1,416 COVID-19 cases of COVID-19.

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