The coronavirus undoubtedly took the world by surprise, but it did not catch doctors and researchers sitting down. Even as the pandemic impacts billions of lives, the search for treatments, both practical and theoretical, have accelerated to meet the crisis head on.
Dr. Mehmet Oz joined The Cats Roundtable to share some of these potential insights being brought to answer some of the unprecedented questions created by COVID-19.
Dr. Oz explained that the coronavirus took the world by surprise partially because of its enormous tax upon hospitals. But with states like New York demanding hospitals increase their capacity by two and a half fold, “aggressive changes” have been made in the makeup of hospitals around the country to better take on the influx of patients. These changes include the converting of operating rooms into COVID-19 recovery rooms, as well as the conversion of emergency rooms to house ventilated patient rooms.
While Dr. Oz said these changes are “not ideal,” hospitals around the country have stepped up to do what they’ve had to do.
Though the death toll due to the pandemic remains high, Dr. Oz agrees with experts that we may have hit the peak. With testing lines in hot spots like New York City shrinking, and the number of patients admitted to ICUs stabilizing, he believes that a decline of cases is in the cards; he told The Cats Roundtable he believes that certain parts of the country less impacted by the virus could be opened back up.
“That takes us toward a goal of May 1st for some of the country opening up, because much of the country wasn’t as hard hit as New York City,” he explained.
But Dr. Oz is clear that recovery will be a long-term conversation, especially for major urban areas hit hard by the pandemic. He compared the response to the virus across the country to a patient undergoing major surgery.
“The treatment was basically pulling the emergency break on America,” he said.
According to Dr. Oz, recovery depends on three things.
First, Dr. Oz emphasized the need for widespread, rapid testing.
“Without testing, there’s just no way you can have any intelligent insight on how things are going,” he explained, adding that once tested, the second thing that needs to be enacted is an “aggressive program” to isolate positive cases and locate those who have had contact with them.
Finally, Dr Oz explained doctors must get the supplies they need to confront issues of capacity in their hospitals. These include equipment pieces like flow nasal cannulas, which supply oxygen before patients require a breathing tube, potentially increasing the survival rate for severe cases in the ICU.
While Dr. Oz doesn’t dismiss the idea the virus will return even after it’s contained, especially in the fall, he assured The Cats Roundtable our preparation dictates the impact.
According to Dr. Oz, the ultimate end to the pandemic is vaccination, but he believes even with the best estimates, such a vaccine could be “fifteen months away.”
In the meantime, doctors are on the front lines, and Dr. Oz understands they have to make decisions today. He cited the trials being conducted into Hydroxychloroquine and its seeming success at limiting the virus’s ability to harm cells as a potential game-changer for on-the-ground treatment.
In China, where some clinical trials have been conducted, Dr. Oz explained Hydroxychloroquine is already being used alongside other antibiotics to treat the virus, while in France researchers have found the drug can be taken safely. While he cautioned one or two trials are not enough to convince the world, he told The Cats Roundtable it wouldn’t be “fair” to ignore the data.
“I was always taught a good doctor asks the brave questions,” Dr. Oz said. “These are the brave questions…We have to ask these questions so we can find out the best solution for our patients.”