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Sarasota Memorial Hospital taking part in 2 clinical trials hoping to treat COVID-19


SARASOTA CO., Fla. (WFLA) – Two clinical trials are coming to the Tampa Bay area that could hold the answer to beating the coronavirus and saving lives.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital says they are prepared and have the capability to do these trials and while it’s still early these trials could save lives here in Tampa Bay.

Sarasota County has been at the forefront of the coronavirus war since it first appeared on March 1. Since then Sarasota Memorial has treated 75 patients testing positive with COVID-19.

Now SMH is fighting back as they become one of the first hospitals in the country to begin trials on a new ant-viral drug called Remdesivir.

“It is only for very sick people who are in the intensive care unit that are on ventilators, but they can’t be too sick in multi organ failure,” said Dr. Kirk Voelker at SMH.

It’s limited use, but Remdesivir could be the most promising COVID-19 drug. SMH says their hospital is best suited to have these types of trials that could save lives in Tampa Bay.

“We want to help anybody that we can help. If we have medication available we would be willing to give it to anyone in need,” said Dr. James Fiorica, Chief Medical Officer at SMH.

There is a warning though; this drug has not proven itself yet and while it is currently fast tracked it will take time to get answers.

“I’m grateful that we have some sort of ammunition to fight this, and I’m hopeful we will be part of a solution,” said Dr. Voelker.

Right now Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of 43 hospitals in the country with this clinical trial and up to 200 hospitals are expected to take part.

Currently doctor’s at SMH are looking for volunteers to donate plasma. The idea is that people who have recovered from coronavirus have antibodies in their plasma that could be given to sick patients at any stage of their illness.

“Every one patient who gives plasma can treat up to 4 others. So that’s a great multiplier. You have the potential of saving four other people’s lives,” said Dr. Voelker.

These former patients and volunteers would need to donate within 14 days of being cleared of the virus. The hospital is working with local blood banks to screen and test people’s plasma.

“I think that will really help us, give us medication for our patients. It’s community helping the community which is wonderful,” said Dr. Fiorica.


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