Overstressed hospitals and compliant patients: anticipating antibody infusions and shorter quarantine times
As progress continues by developing drugs to fight COVID-19, the question soon becomes, who will get the first treatments? The decision isn't as simple as it may seem. In addition to treatment options, the Centers for Disease Control is considering shortening the time of quarantine based on the timetable for spreading the virus.
The two new COVID-19 antibody treatments distributed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly received emergency use authorization by the FDA several weeks ago. In fact, the drugs were administered to President Trump, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The thing is, all three were treated after being hospitalized for the virus which isn't the treatments intent.
The hour long IV infusions were approved to treat patients before being admitted to the hospital. With the current rate of hospitalizations, ICU beds fill-ups, and a shortage of hospital staff, this is the area the treatment would be most useful.
According to an article from NBC News, Regeneron is to distribute 30,000 doses on Tuesday, with an additional 50,000 within a week. Eli Lilly will have 120,000 doses. Currently in the US, we're diagnosing 170,000 cases a day. Regeneron plans to have 200,000 more doses by the first of January and Eli Lilly one million before the end of 2020.
Regarding those that are at high risk. Patients that are obese, suffer with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or any condition that compromises the immune system. The report said that 40% of all complicated cases come from the obese population.
As treatments slowly become available, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is likely to shorten recommendations for how long people need to quarantine. The current protocol is 14 days. One of the members of the White House Task Force stated on Tuesday that "a preponderance of evidence that a shorter quarantine complemented by a test might be able to shorten that quarantine period." NPR News
What's floating around is a quarantine of seven to 10 days based on patients willingness to quarantine. The CDC is implying that there's a shorter window of time needed to quarantine as opposed to the current recommendation of 14 days. If this is true, compliance may improve.
It seems like a complicated call. As COVID-19 cases are on the rise, treating patients that are at high risk first, makes sense to prevent hospitals from being further stressed, however, shortening quarantine time needs to be studied carefully. No one wants to take one step forward and two steps back.