BayCare taking part in several clinical trials to find treatments, cure for COVID-19

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Posted at 6:36 AM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 07:25:47-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Local doctors are working to find treatments and a cure for COVID-19.

“It’s been very challenging this disease because it’s changing so rapidly, and just keeping up with the science of it has been a challenge,” said BayCare Medical Director of Evidence Based Medicine, Dr. Paul Lewis.

BayCare is joining researchers around the world in clinical trials for patients in the Tampa Bay area.

“We’re excited to be part of trials, at the same time we’re trying a very balanced approach and not get too far ahead of the curve. We want to do the right thing for our patients,” said Lewis.

BayCare physicians say they’re researching to shed light on many unanswered questions about COVID-19 to help treat patients in Tampa Bay.

BayCare’s Clinical Research team is supporting clinician investigators as they launch several clinical trials focused on testing, treatment and vaccination to help provide local access to treatment options to help fight COVID-19.

Some of the clinical trials already in progress include:

  • A randomized clinical trial focused on the off-label use of Sarilumab drug to determine its effects on respiratory distress caused by COVID-19 in critically ill patients.
  • Partnering with Mayo Clinic under their expanded access protocol to provide COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) donated by those who have recovered from COVID-19 to use as a treatment option for those fighting the disease. The CCP is an experimental treatment that was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used on an emergency basis to help people with life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Providing use of Remdesivir and other investigational drugs for the treatment of coronavirus infections in vulnerable populations.
  • Studying the performance of nasopharyngeal versus nasal swabs to detect COVID-19.

In addition, BayCare is working to build an internal registry and is participating in regional, national and international registries to collect biomarkers and clinical data to compare treatment and patterns of care with clinical outcomes.

This information is critical in guiding the development of effective care guidelines and additional interventional trials as more is understood about it.

“The amazing thing with COVID is just how rapid some of the turn arounds have been in the trials, and you see this all-time with how quickly things are changing in the trials and results are coming out almost weekly,” said Lewis.

This week BayCare is having discussions about possibly getting involved in a trial to find a COVDI-19 vaccine.

Doctors say there’s a major advantage to being part of a clinical trial: being able to get medication for patients much sooner.

“If you’re not in those trials, sometimes you don’t have access to those medications,” said Lewis.

Here in Tampa Bay, doctors say it’s very difficult to get experimental drugs to treat COVID-19 if they’re not part of a clinical trial.

Doctors say if they’re not doing the research, then sometimes institutions will get locked out of medications.

“If we are involved in a trial, we really believe this can be beneficial to you as a patient, and that’s our primary goal. And our secondary goal is to help science and to help the advancement of knowledge,” said Lewis.