MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- The Alabama Department of Public Health received 2,596 vials of Remdesivir, the potentially life-saving COVID-19 antiviral drug from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The first shipment of 396 vials arrived Tuesday, which were sent to 33 hospitals across the state including Baptist Medical Center South, Baptist Medical Center East, Jackson Hospital and Prattville Baptist Hospital.
The second shipment of Remdesivir arrived this week with 2,200 vials. Of those, 1,008 have already been delivered to 21 hospitals, including hospitals in Montgomery and Prattville. The remaining 1,192 vials will be coordinated with hospitals based on need, according to ADPH.
WSFA 12 News is told the physicians on the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force determined the hospital allocations based on need. The Remdesivir was distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with rationing out 607,000 vials of the antiviral to all states.
It's difficult to pinpoint how many patients will be treated by the number of vials due to varying levels of illness. Some doctors note that it could take around 10 vials on average to treat a patient, which would indicate Alabama's allocation could treat around 200 patients.
Baptist Health confirms it received enough Remdesivir to treat around eight patients across its three facilities.
UAB is one of dozens of sites participating in a government-funded Remdesivir study, which showed encouraging signs so quickly during phase one of the trial, some of those who received the placebo in many cases were unblinded and given the drug. This phase elevated Remdesivir as the standard of care for COVID-19.
“It looks like people leave the hospital sooner,” explained Dr. Nathanial Erdmann, a principal investigator in the UAB study. “I would expect, although we haven’t seen this data confirmed yet, that it looks like it should improve mortality as compared to control.”
In terms of clinical experience, Erdmann says patients who are critically ill with advanced respiratory failure are not typically the best candidates for this antiviral, which doesn't treat respiratory disease.
“The ideal patient is one that clearly is progressing towards severe illness, but yet is relatively early in their presentation,” he explained. “Meaning they’re likely just entering the healthcare system, they had a rapid respiratory decompensation and those are the people that would likely benefit the most as best we can tell.”
Erdmann says UAB continuously analyzes its patients and dispenses Remdesivir to those who seem to best-qualify based on what they've seen during the study versus waiting for patients with very specific characteristics to be admitted.
“The amount of drug that’s available versus the number of potential patients is highly, highly mismatched and so how to figure out how to deal with this is going to be a process,” he explained. “And as much as it’s frustrating. I do think it’s worth emphasizing the fact that this is happening extraordinarily quickly, so trying to have some patience is really important. But if it’s you or your loved one who’s sitting in a hospital and getting worse, that is not a whole lot of comfort to hear that it’s a process and we’re working on it.”
It's unclear whether Alabama will receive additional shipments.
An HHS spokesperson told WSFA all states now have their allocations in hand.
“With a sense of urgency to get doses to hospitalized patients, state health departments are providing insight into which hospitals in their states have the greatest number of COVID-19 patients meeting the criteria for use of remdesivir under the Emergency Use Authorization,” they stated. “State health departments have worked with hospitals on strategies for caring for COVID-19 patients within their states, and will be working with hospitals on distribution of the limited supply of donated remdesivir.”
The list of hospitals that received Remdesivir include:
• BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER EAST
• BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER SOUTH
• BROOKWOOD BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER
• BRYAN W WHITFIELD MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
• COMMUNITY HOSPITAL INC.
• CULLMAN REGIONAL
• DCH REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
• DECATUR MORGAN - DECATUR CAMPUS
• DEKALB REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
• EAST ALABAMA MEDICAL CENTER
• GADSDEN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
• GRANDVIEW MEDICAL CENTER
• HELEN KELLER HOSPITAL
• HUNTSVILLE HOSPITAL
• JACKSON HOSPITAL AND CLINIC INC
• MARSHALL MEDICAL CENTER - SOUTH
• MEDICAL CENTER BARBOUR
• MOBILE INFIRMARY MEDICAL CENTER
• NORTH ALABAMA MEDICAL CENTER
• NORTHEAST ALABAMA REGIONAL MED CTR
• PRATTVILLE BAPTIST HOSPITAL
• PRINCETON BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER
• PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL
• REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER OF CENTRAL AL
• SOUTHEAST ALABAMA MEDICAL CENTER
• SPRINGHILL MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
• THOMAS HOSPITAL
• TROY REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
• UAB MEDICAL WEST
• UNIV OF SOUTH ALABAMA MEDICAL CENTER
• UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA HOSPITAL
• VAUGHAN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
• WASHINGTON COUNTY HOSPITAL
• ST. VINCENT’S BIRMINGHAM
• DECATUR MORGAN HOSPITAL
• WHITFIELD REGIONAL HOSPITAL
• ST. VINCENT’S EAST
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