Treat more and more specifically
‘It is important to realize that we are gaining a better understanding of the disease and that we can treat it with more and more targeted drugs. Patients can still become seriously ill, but on average the hospital stay is shorter, fewer patients end up in intensive care and the mortality is lower. The emphasis for hospital care has shifted from intensive care to the clinic, ‘says Robin Peeters, head of internal medicine of Erasmus MC.
Reaping the benefits
The treatment of patients is different than during the first wave, Leon van den Toorn knows. He is a lung specialist at Erasmus MC. ‘The virus is the same, but we learned an awful lot from the first wave. We are now reaping the benefits of the first major studies. ‘ All admitted corona patients receive blood thinners as a precaution, regardless of their condition. The doctors do this to prevent pulmonary embolisms and other problems with blood vessels. Patients who require oxygen also receive the virus inhibitor inhibitor desivir and the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone.
The administration of oxygen has also changed. Van den Toorn: ‘We give some patients a lot of oxygen through the nose at a high flow rate. During the first wave, we were reluctant to do that, but now it is becoming clear that this can prevent admission to intensive care for certain patients. ‘
The new treatment appears to be paying off. ‘We have the strong impression that this treatment improves the course of the disease. In the first wave, for example, half of the patients ended up in intensive care. Now that has fallen to one in four, ‘says Van den Toorn.
‘First wave happened to us’
Despite these bright spots, Erasmus MC remains prepared for the reception of seriously ill corona patients. Just like during the first wave, an extra intensive care unit has been set up on the eighth floor. ‘The first wave happened to us, but now we have it better under control. All the equipment is ready and we have made windows in the room doors for better contact between the staff in the isolation room and in the hallway, ‘explains intensive care head Diederik Gommers.
According to the doctors, the positive developments surrounding the treatment do not mean that a coronavirus infection is a serious disease, with a major impact on healthcare. In order to allow regular care to continue as much as possible, it is therefore very important that everyone adheres to the measures. Gommers: ‘Everything stands or falls with the number of new infections.’