Officials optimistic treatments will help ease COVID strain on Canada’s health system

Officials optimistic treatments will help ease COVID strain on Canada’s health system
Gilead Sciences/The Associated Press
In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, a vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States.

With COVID-19 hospitalizations in Canada still threatening to overwhelm the health-care system, officials hope two antiviral treatments could help ease the strain.

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests the antiviral medication remdesivir could have a “modest but significant effect” on COVID-19 patient outcomes, including decreasing the need for mechanical ventilation by approximately 50 per cent.

Billed as the largest single-country trial of remdesivir reported to date, the Canadian research is part of a larger study called the World Health Organization Solidarity, a randomized, controlled trial evaluating the medication’s impact on COVID-19 patients in several countries.

Meanwhile, provinces and territories are to receive their shipments of the antiviral drug Paxlovid, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cautions the pill that can prevent COVID hospitalization is not a replacement for vaccinations.

Health officials in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba are expressing optimism that the Omicron-fuelled fifth pandemic wave is peaking or will be soon.

However, hospitalizations in Saskatchewan have increased by 95 per cent over the last month, while New Brunswick has a record 123 people in hospital with COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

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