HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In the past couple of days, the number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals has dropped. Huntsville Hospital is seeing the same changes. But, why is this happening? WZDX sat with the hospital’s Infectious Disease Expert to hear what could be behind the change.
We met with Dr. Ali Hassoun, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Huntsville Hospital. Dr. Hassoun tells us, “It could be explained because the numbers of transmission are much higher during the holidays, and now we are three weeks from January 1st. But, it remains really bad.”
A Huntsville Hospital chart tracking the number of COVID-19 inpatients since April 2020 shows the trend has been heading down over the past week or so. But, Dr. Ali Hassoun says it's not time to get excited. He explains, “We had a reduction in September, for example, the numbers went down to maybe 30 or 40. At the moment there’s maybe 150 or more in the hospital. In addition, there are ones with suspected COVID that we don’t have the results on yet. So, even though we see numbers have reduced, it remains significant.”
We asked Dr. Hassoun if the drop in inpatients could be because more people are recovering from the virus? Or are patients are dying from COVID-19, causing the numbers to fall?
He says, some treatments may have contributed to the change. Dr. Hassoun tells our reporter, “... It remains to be the Remdesivir and the Dexamethasone. But, I think the addition of monoclonal antibodies in the outpatient setting might’ve helped. You know, the infusions in the outpatient might have helped reducing hospitalization and reducing severity.” He says the treatments are able to make a difference for some patients, but not all. Dr. Hassoun adds, “Not all of them are curative. It remains to be, some of them help, some of them don’t. There are still patients who are in the ICU, staying for many weeks and, unfortunately, some of them die.”
Dr. Hassoun says it’s important to keep hospitalizations low to, of course, save lives and ease the strain on health care workers. But, the only way he sees this pandemic coming to an end is if we all stay vigilant and as many people as possible roll up their sleeves. He says, “They cannot lay their guard, basically. And they need-- as soon as they get offered the vaccine, they need to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”
Is the hospitalization decline a good sign? It could be too early to tell.
Dr. Hassoun says, “We’re going to need to give it another few weeks and watch and see ‘Is this going to be a pattern?’ or is it going to go up again? We need to be very very careful.”