By Joe Boyle
Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn is one of 14 hospitals that is receiving a shipment of remdesivir in an effort to combat the effects of COVID-19.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, stated in a letter Saturday to the Illinois Hospital Chief Medical Offices that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), that an initial shipment of remdesivir for COVID-19 patients was going to be shipped to specific hospitals.
“The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently conducted a clinical trial and found that patients who received remdesivir had a statistically significant shorter time to recovery, compared to those receiving a post placebo,” Ezike said during the state leaders’ daily briefing Monday on COVID-19.
Advocate Christ Medical Center, 4440 W. 95th St., staff has treated many patients with COVID-19. According to the IDPH, Advocate Christ was to receive 25 boxes of the drug. Rush University Medical Center will receive the most with 34. By comparison, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the University of Chicago Medical Center were the closest after that in receiving boxes of remdesivir. Both hospitals were to receive 10 boxes each.
The IDPH has received 140 cases and has enough vials to treat about five patients (depending on a 6-to-1 vials course) at each hospital. ASPR has recommended that full cases be delivered without states breaking them up and shipping loose vials.
According to the IDPH, 90 percent of the boxes of remdesivir is being shipped to Chicago-area hospitals.
"Since it is impossible for every hospital in Illinois to get a case of remdesivir, we established criteria to dose allocation to Illinois hospitals that we think is equitable, transparent, and data driven," Ezike wrote. "Remdesivir will be distributed to the hospitals that have seen the most critically ill COVID-19 patients and to safety net hospitals and hospitals treating large communities of color."
IDPH reported Monday there had been 1,266 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, the lowest daily number since April 20. The agency also reported 54 new virus-related deaths, the lowest number since April 27. And 12,441 tests were completed over the past 24 hours, making for a positivity rate of 10.2 percent.
So far since the pandemic first hit Illinois, there have been 79,007 confirmed cases, including 3,459 virus-related deaths. The disease has been recorded in 98 of the state’s 102 counties, according to information provided by the IDPH.
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Northshore Glenbrook Hospital, AMITA Resurrection Medical Center Chicago, John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital Cook County, Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Anthony Hospital will each receive eight boxes of remdesivir.
Advocate Christ is the lone local hospital to receive remdesivir this week. No remdesivir was going to be shipped to OSF Healthcare Medical Center in Evergreen Park for now.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month during a briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force that remdesivir could be a "game-changer."
The Federal Drug Administration had issued immediate authorization for the drug after Fauci's optimism. However, FDA officials said while promising, remdesivir is not a cure for the novel coronavirus.
While local hospital officials are pleased to receive remdesivir, the amount to assist COVID-19 patients is a fraction of what is needed to help in recovery.
“We do expect to receive more remdesivir in the future, but our hope is that the allocation that we received on Saturday can already help to improve outcomes for some patients who need it most,” Ezike said.