Sarasota Memorial expanding latest clinical trial of COVID-19 treatment


SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area hospital on the front line of finding treatments for COVID-19 is moving into the next phase of it’s latest clinical trial.

Starting next week, the trial for a new antibody cocktail that attacks coronavirus won’t just be for patients who need to be hospitalized, Sarasota Memorial Hospital doctors said Friday.

“The whole idea of shutting down the economy and to flatten the curve was to sort of let us catch up,” said Dr. Kurk Voelker, Medical Director of SMH Clinical Research.

In the months leading up to the summer surge of infections, SMH doctors tell 8 On Your Side they’ve learned how to better take care of COVID-19 patients.

“Remdesivir, we know that it has efficacy,” Dr. Voelker said. “But the convalescent plasma you can actually see people will be spiking temperatures and 12 hours after giving convalescent plasma you can see things calm down.”

Dr. Voelker said blood donations are running low and the demand is increasing for Remdesivir, the antiviral medication that’s shown to shorten the duration of illness.

“The government and Gilead is working in a system for distribution, so every Monday we get a supply for the week,” said Dr. Manuel Gordillo, Medical Director of SMH Infection Prevention and Control.

The antibody treatment currently for the latest SMH clinical trial does not rely on human donations, but rather it is grown in the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ labs.

“Outpatients that don’t need to be hospitalized could be eligible for this study and we’re excited about that,”  Dr. Gordillo said.

To qualify, outpatients simply need a positive test and to have at least one symptom of the virus. Doctors said the extremely sick are being excluded from this latest trial.

It is yet another way this local hospital is catching up in the fight against coronavirus.    

“Something that may make a percent different, saves lives,” Dr. Voelker said.


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