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Longview hospital hosts clinical trial for new COVID-19 treatment

The treatment will be a combination of the antiviral drug Remdesivir and a solution from donated plasma of COVID-19 survivors.

TYLER, Texas — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the state and with vaccines still months away, for most Texans finding a way to slow down the effects of the virus on those infected has become paramount. And one way could be found at a local hospital in Longview. 

Christus Good Shepherd Hospital has been named the only East Texas Medical Center to participate in an important clinical trial — the testing of a new COVID-19 treatment. 

"This is a very innovative clinical trial to test the safety, tolerability and the efficacy of a combination treatment regiment," CHRISTUS Health system Director Pukar Ratti said. 

The treatment will be a combination of the antiviral drug Remdesivir and a product called hyperimmune intravenous hemoglobin (hIVIg), a highly concentrated solution made from donated plasma by COVID-19 survivors.

"We believe this concentrated solution of antibodies will help the patients fight off COVID-19 much sooner," Ratti said. "The clinical trial is already in phase 3, this is the final phase."

The trial will include 500 patients across five continents. Patients would need positive for COVID-19 for no more than 12 days since the onset of the diagnosis, be admitted to Good Shepherd Hospital and have no severe organ damage.  

"This clinical trial participation gives them a fair fighting chance at COVID-19," Ratti said. "The trial is completely voluntary and in this design the patient will have a fifty-fifty chance to either get [hIVIg] or they will get the placebo."

Patients will still receive the regiment of Remdesivir regardless if they get the plasma solution or not. 

Once the data from the trial has been analyzed, Ratti says they could get FDA approval relatively quickly for the treatment, or at least authorization to allow patients outside of the clinical trial to have access to this important innovative therapy.

"We are very excited to be one of those sites in Texas to present this to our patients," Ratti said. "We are just simply excited that the community of Longview will now have access to this innovative treatment.