SAN ANTONIO – It’s not a preventative. Rather, it’s an actual treatment that Merck says shows promise in preventing COVID-19 from replicating and spreading through your body. That means fewer complications for those at higher risk of dying from the disease, such as diabetics and those over the age of 65.
Dr. Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer at University Health, says it really cuts through the clutter of other potential treatments.
“It’s an oral medication you would take twice a day for four or five days, not unlike something like Tamiflu that you could take at home,” he said.
It’s the first of several similar treatments in the pipeline at pharmaceutical companies who will also be requesting emergency use approval.
All of these could be your first line of defense that a COVID-19 positive person could take at home, without needing to find a way to the hospital or clinic when energy is low and the potential to spread the virus is high.
“The only thing we have in that category is monoclonal antibodies and that requires IV infusion over a certain period of time and might require a location that’s harder to get to,” said Dr. Alsip.
For San Antonio, this is an important development since nipping COVID-19 before it replicates into a severe illness will impact the portion of our population at risk of diabetes.
There’s a growing belief that there’s a direct connection between COVID-19 complications to diabetes. The inflammation causes long-term damage to organs such as the brain, liver and lungs, but also the pancreas, which regulates our glucose levels in our bodies. With it malfunctioning, it can trigger much bigger issues.
Dr. Alsip explains, “When that’s disrupted, that could lead to an exacerbation of diabetes, or can cause diabetes in patients who hadn’t had it previously.”
Even those who were not initially at risk of developing the chronic disease could now begin showing symptoms.
Looking over the horizon, the Merck pill comes at just the right time for doctors who treat these patients because it’s clear many patients have put off their diabetes screenings and treatment during the pandemic.
With Bexar County’s already high prevalence of diabetes demanding medical capacity, these unexpected cases from COVID-19 complications are sure to make that burden heavier.