The Georgia Department of Public Health has distributed its initial allotment of the drug remdesivir to eight hospitals with the most COVID-19 patients on ventilators.
DPH received from the federal government 30 cases, with 40 vials of the drug per case -- enough to treat about 110 patients, depending on the duration of an individual’s treatment.
Officials surveyed hospitals over the weekend to determine where to send a second, larger allotment next week.
As of Sunday morning, Floyd County had a total of 180 confirmed cases -- no change from Saturday night. The number of residents who have died from the disease remained at 13. Overall, 43 people have been hospitalized since the DPH began tracking the spread.
Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia.
It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings. Remdesivir is given intravenously and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.
The distribution plan for remdesivir in Georgia was developed by DPH leadership, including district health directors and emergency preparedness staff, in accordance with Food and Drug Administration guidelines for its use. It is based on the number of patients on ventilators, the most severely ill, and clinical best practices.
Georgia hospitals receiving remdesivir reported 10 or more COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs.
These criteria are subject to change based on the availability of remdesivir and the development of patient care at hospital facilities across the state.
The following hospitals are receiving remdesivir; Tift Regional Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Grady Health System, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and Augusta University Medical Center.
“DPH is pleased to have the opportunity to share this promising treatment with hospitals on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, DPH commissioner. “While this drug is not a cure for COVID-19, getting it into the hospitals and improving patient outcomes is moving in the right direction.”
DPH is surveying hospitals statewide over the weekend to determine need. The second allotment will be distributed next week.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. committed to supplying approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug over the next six weeks to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under an emergency use agreement.
The donation to the United States is part of 1.5 million vials of remdesivir the company is donating worldwide.
Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational and it is still being studied.
Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.