Health May 23, 2020 | 11:25 am

Dominican doctor warns there is no approved or effective treatment for COVID-19

Dr. Carlos Heriberto García Lithgowm

Santo Domingo (EFE) .- The Dominican doctor Carlos Heriberto García Lithgowm stressed this Friday that currently there is no “effective or approved by anyone” treatment against COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine, and that the finding of a vaccine will be “the only thing that will likely control the disease to any meaningful degree.

The doctor, an interventional cardiologist, is one of the two coordinators in the Dominican Republic of the Solidarity clinical trial of the World Health Organization (WHO), as announced by the Ministry of Public Health, in which 108 countries will share knowledge to find a treatment effective against coronavirus.

The Dominican Republic has been the 32nd country to enter the study, which constitutes “a contribution of humanity” to find “a rapid treatment response to combat this scourge, which is unprecedented. We have never faced anything like this so nobody is an expert on the matter,” he told Efe.

“The definitive treatment will be the vaccine, but in the process, we need to save patients,” which is the objective of this multicenter and multinational study of the WHO.

In the process, four treatment options will be compared to evaluate the relative efficacy of each of them against COVID-19, which implies the participation of hundreds of thousands of hospitalized patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus, with the aim of rapidly discovering if any of the drugs studied slows the progression of the disease or improves the survival rate.

According to García Lithgowm explained, “there are thousands of small studies and trials with different results of limes, we cannot infer a scientific answer that supports a uniform treatment in the world.”

Regarding the “indiscriminate” taking of hydroxychloroquine by “transcendental figures,” referring to the presidents of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, and of the United States, Donald Trump, the doctor stated that “no doctor can say” that he or some other medication “is going to save the lives of coronavirus patients.” At the moment, only “there is symptomatic treatment.”

In this sense, he indicated that “many small trials have been carried out with different results, some with increases in sudden deaths. It will be with hundreds of thousands of patients that there will be a scientific answer on its effectiveness.”

“Until now, we only have social distancing and isolation testing positive patients. There is no other way to flatten the famous curve so that we are simply not overloading our health services “while the vaccine is found,” which is the only thing that will bring COVID-19 under control.”

The coordinating team in the Dominican Republic for the Solidaridad trial, also composed of the Deputy Minister of Collective Health, Adrián Puello, is already taking the first steps related to the study.

The first was “that the Ethics Committee of our country agrees with what is being proposed to us (from the WHO) and does it within the safest guidelines for human beings.”

Second, we proceed to “identify the hospitals that we are going to include in the trial and that classify what we need.” It is about “agreeing all under the guidelines of the trial,” he said.

Then “WHO will supply the medicines that we are going to use. Some of them are already in the country, such as hydroxychloroquine, but the agency will supply all countries with the four drugs that we are going to implement »in the study.

García Lithgowm pointed out that in the selection of countries by the WHO to participate in the trial, “there is no discrimination, but there must be a certain level of organization in the country.”

The Dominican Republic reached 13,989 infected with coronavirus, after confirming 332 new cases, while the deceased rose to 456, after another 8 deaths, according to data offered this Friday by the Ministry of Health.

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