RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- Even with multiple vaccines, people will continue to get sick from COVID-19. Treatments are needed to keep infected people from getting worse and inundating our hospitals even more.

The pressure on hospital staff is greater than ever.

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“I am completely demoralized. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” said Dr. David Wohl, a professor of infectious diseases at UNC Chapel Hill.

Wohl spends day in and day out treating critical COVID-19 patients. The situation is worsening every week.

“This is the United States of America and people are getting treated in parking lots?” he said.

Through the frustration that cases and hospitalizations continue to soar, he sees a glimmer of hope in the study of a new potential treatment. Right now, if you are infected with COVID-19, your doctor will ask you to recover at home with minimal medication.

“Right now there’s nothing and these therapies could make a difference in keeping people out of the hospital,” Wohl said.

UNC is testing a treatment from Brii Bioscience, based in Durham.

“The idea is to take these compounds, give them to people as soon as they’re diagnosed with COVID-19, get it circulating in their system within minutes and it can neutralize the virus,” explained Wohl.

This study is unique in the way it goes through its phases.

In a typical study, only one treatment would be studied and if that proves to be ineffective or unsafe, it’s removed and researchers have to start over. UNC’s plan allows for treatments to be introduced without having to start at square one.

The ACTIV-2 study also combines testing phases two and three together without compromising safety.

“It’s like you got your dinner and we’re not going to take a break and have dessert. Let’s just have dessert right after dinner, while we’re sitting down,” said Wohl.

The study will continue looking at potential therapeutics even if the Brii treatment is found effective.

Dr. Wohl expects to see a variety of treatments in the future.

“It could be you get a pill, or it could be you get a shot once, or it could be you get an inhaled therapy and those are the kinds of things we need to keep people out of the hospital,” Wohl said.

A combination of vaccines, treatment, masking and social distancing will be needed to turn the pandemic around, he said.

Participating in the study

UNC will need volunteer participants for the study.

Participants should:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week
  • Have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Be recovering at home rather than a hospital

More information on study eligibility here.

Participants should expect a screening followed by a visit with a researcher to be placed into a treatment group. Over the next six months, participants would visit with a researcher up to seven more times and receive follow up phone calls.