There has been rumors that testing was going to slow down a result of a comment made by President Trump at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee early this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that he and the other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force have never “been told to slow down on testing. It’s the opposite. We’re going to be doing more testing, not less.”
The goal is to reach 40 – 50 million tests monthly by the fall. Right now, we’ve done about 28 million tests and are averaging about 500,000 per day. It’s important to note that while an increase in testing will increase the number of cases, it can’t account for the higher percentages of positive tests that many states are now seeing. According to Dr. Fauci, the rise in positive cases “cannot be explained by increased testing.”
Recently, scientists in Britain released the results of a study online that found that dexamethasone, which is a cheap and widely available steroid, helps to improve patients who have severe COVID-19 infections. While the study hasn’t been peer reviewed or published, it does hold a surprise. Despite helping those in desperate need of a solution, it seems to pose a risk to patients who have mild cases of the disease. According to the scientists, this means that the timing of giving the drug is crucial.
The study found that dexamethasone was beneficial for patients who had been sick for longer than a week. It reduced the number of deaths by one-third for patients on ventilators and by one-fifth for those receiving supplemental oxygen. These findings prompted some officials in American hospitals to say that they would start using dexamethasone to treat COVID patients. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has encouraged companies to increase production of it.
The study did note that patients who received the medication and weren’t on respiratory support didn’t gain from it and actually died at a slightly higher rate than those that didn’t receive the steroid. Doctors point out that steroid medications typically suppress the immune system because they’re anti-inflammatory drugs. So, for people with severe forms of COVID-19 whose immune systems have gone into overdrive, this can be helpful. However, for those who have milder cases, the suppression of the immune system means the body can’t do its job of protecting the person. This indicates that dexamethasone shouldn’t be used by those with less serious infections or as a preventative measure.