A new observational study performed by researchers at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York on COVID-19 patients has yielded promising results in the continuing battle to turn the tide in deaths and intubations caused by the disease. The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

In examining the records of over 4,300 COVID patients admitted to one of the five hospitals in the Mt. Sinai system between March 1 and April 30, the researchers found significant improvement in the outcomes of patients treated with anti-coagulants (i.e., blood thinners). The risk of death dropped by 50% in those patients, and the need for intubation decreased by 31%.

Doctors at Mt. Sinai and elsewhere noticed back in May that many COVID patients suffered from blood clots and that blood thinners were helping, and published a preliminary report on their observations. This new study builds on the first, noting that autopsies showed previously undetected blood clotting in the heart, brains and lungs of many of the patients who succumbed to the disease.

The researchers also found that in about 3% of the patients given the blood thinners, internal bleeding occurred, which is a known side effect of such medicines.

What does this mean in the battle against the pandemic, which has claimed over 180,000 American lives?

“Although this is an observational study, it helped in the design of a large-scale international clinical trial that we are coordinating,” said senior corresponding author Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC.

In other words, the observational study results provide the necessary groundwork to begin clinical trials typical of any new treatment.

In the race for effective vaccines and other therapeutics, the need to balance safety against the urgency of the need has its frustrations as testing must continue, but there has been some good news along the way. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration issued an “Emergency Use Authorization” for the use of convalescent plasma in the fight against COVID-19. The treatment involves transfusing blood plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients, which contains the antibodies necessary to fight the disease, into current patients.

As “Operation Warp Speed” continues to fast-track the research and production of vaccines and other medicines necessary to throttle this disease into submission, we can only echo the cries of those who say, “Faster, please!”

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