LSU Health Shreveport is making big progress in its fight against COVID-19 with its new Emerging Viral Threat Lab, representatives said in a press briefing Wednesday morning.
In the past 6 months, LSU Health Shreveport conducted over 120,000 COVID-19 tests in northwest Louisiana, said Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease John Vanchiere said. Of that 120,000, roughly 75,000 related to nursing homes.
Vanchiere is also the principal investigator on site for the Pfizer-sponsored mRNA COVID-19 vaccine study.
The University is “one of a dozen” sites chosen to continue research. Other sites worldwide shut down from enrollment for two reasons, Vanchiere said. These include low COVID-19 activity rates in the area and a shift of focus to African American and Hispanic populations.
“They are hard hit populations by this virus and we want to include them, at this point, more preferentially, in this study so we can understand how the vaccine works in these populations and know whether we need to deploy different vaccines in different populations,” Vanchiere said.
About 164 subjects in the Shreveport area volunteered for the study so far.
“We have to come up with therapeutic options and approaches to try and you know help the individuals infected with this disease,” Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of School of Graduate Studies Christopher Kevil said.
One option, Kevil said, was a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital to inhale nitrous oxide therapy.
Kevil said evidence from the end of the first SARS epidemic suggested nitrous oxide inhalation therapy was beneficial for patients who contracted the virus.
LSU Health Shreveport recruited 10 different patients in the area for the trial.
“[It has] shown that inhaled N.O. therapy can be quite beneficial for individuals that are suffering from this,” Kevil said.
LSUHCS also initiated the first site in Louisiana to utilize convalescent plasma therapy.
“We continue to push the envelope to this day,” Kevil said.
Kevil reminded the public to wear masks in public, social distance and wash their hands.
“We still are in the fourth or fifth inning of this probably nine or ten inning game and it's gonna be a while,” Kevil said.