As an infectious disease doctor, I find myself answering a continuous flow of questions regarding SARS-CoV-2. One of the hardest things for people to comprehend is the “we just don’t know” response.
As this virus spreads rapidly across the world, there isn’t a soul who won’t find themselves somehow affected. Family, friends, and patients grasp onto any shimmer of hope as they find themselves desperate for a cure. “We got to try something,” a friend asks, after explaining to me that her relative remains on a ventilator for nearly two weeks.
As the mayhem continues, we find ourselves glued to the TV or frantically searching the internet. WhatsApp groups light up with real-time updates. Information at our fingertips makes it easy to self diagnose, and form hypotheses on possible treatment options. However, as the saying goes, nothing is as easy as it seems.
Treatments for a disease often takes years to develop. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus, and therefore both our understanding of the virus and possible treatment options are limited. As per CDC guidelines to date “there are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19”. However, the CDC does note that “based upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal data, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries” including the United States.
Before considering these medications as treatment options, one should always consult with their physician. There are serious side effects to chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, especially when taken with other medications.
Despite the dire situation, we find ourselves in, with no known effective treatment available, we must never lose hope that this madness will come to an end soon. We have seen throughout the history of mankind, how hope has carried people through the hardest of times. With hope, we can survive the unthinkable.