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'No one needs to die from Covid-19 any more,' claims American doctor

Drug cocktail helped 92-year-old cancer patient

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Anger: Protesters demand the release of immigrants and families in detention due to dangers posed by coronavirus outside the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement HQ in Washington DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anger: Protesters demand the release of immigrants and families in detention due to dangers posed by coronavirus outside the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement HQ in Washington DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Getty Images

Anger: Protesters demand the release of immigrants and families in detention due to dangers posed by coronavirus outside the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement HQ in Washington DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dr Joseph Varon has never seen so many patients in his intensive care unit.

Most of the beds are occupied by cases of Covid-19.

But although his hospital in Houston, Texas, has found itself at the new centre of the US outbreak, he is not as worried as one might imagine.

"Our ward is full of coronavirus patients, but we've had amazing success in treating them," said Dr Varon, chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Centre. "Around 95pc of people who have come in here have walked out."

Based on most recent death certificate data released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of deaths caused by Covid-19 and conditions linked to the virus decreased from 6.9pc for the last week of June to 5.5pc for the first week of July, representing the 11th consecutive week of decline.

"As cases rise, deaths decline. The disconnect between case and death trends is striking," said Whet Moser, of the Covid Tracking Project.

Some health experts now believe what was seen in the early days of the outbreak in New York and New Jersey -and indeed much of Europe - was a "worst-case scenario", and that a combination of factors could help spare current hotspots the same fate.

For months in New York, doctors over-relied on ventilators, which yielded bad prognoses, and admitted they were "flying blind" when it came to drug treatments.

"We were seeing so many people in such a bad way, we thought we were failing because we didn't know how to treat them," said Dr Samir Farhat, who runs the intensive care unit at New York Community Hospital, back in April. "We kept experimenting to try to find something that worked."

Antivirals and steroids have recently been discovered to reduce fatalities in the sickest patients, as have high doses of vitamin C and zinc treatments.

Dr Varon and colleagues from five different hospitals across the US have created a cocktail of drugs they have called the "Math+ Protocol".

The combination of cortisone steroid, vitamins and anticoagulants is helping combat the two biggest dangers of the virus - inflammation and clotting - and the Math+ Protocol even managed to help a 92-year-old Covid-19 sufferer undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer.

"We learned so much in a few months," said Dr Varon, who has treated more than 200 coronavirus patients.

"No one needs to die from coronavirus any more," he said.

Mortality of patients fell to under 42pc at the end of May from almost 60pc in March, according to analysis of two dozen studies involving more than 10,000 patients in North America, Europe and Asia.

The median age of those testing positive in the US is falling, suggesting that while older people continue to shelter, younger adults are being infected as they return to work and socialising.

In Florida, another new hotspot, the median age of people testing positive for Covid-19 fell from 54 to 35 between May and June.

The State recorded its highest single-day toll on Thursday with 156 deaths, more than 8,000 are currently in hospital with the virus.

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, issued a directive in late March that effectively ordered nursing homes to accept elderly virus patients from hospitals. The goal was to free up beds, but it allowed the virus to spread quickly among the most vulnerable communities.

Nationwide, the US deaths per million tally is just under 400. The figure is inflated by the north-east's death rate, which is more than double the national average at 1,100.

Some experts warn, however, that it is too early to read much into the numbers, pointing to what is known as a "death lag".

According to the CDC, the average period from symptom onset to death is about two weeks. The average lag between death and the reporting of a death is just over seven days.

Some experts also fear that while younger adults are driving new infections, states might not see deaths spike until infections overflow into older populations.

The University of Massachusetts' Amherst Reich lab this week predicted that the Covid-19 death tally could be 151,000 in the US by August 1.

"Should we expect that trend to move upwards? The lag times from infection to death, and death to reporting, mean it's a possibility," said Mr Moser. "But there's also a lot we don't know about this new phase of the pandemic, meaning trends in new cases and deaths may not correlate."

Telegraph.co.uk