Dr. Rai on the importance of at home tests for at risk patients, hope after omicron surge

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:19 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - We’re starting to see a downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, clearing way for a sense of hope after the omicron surge.

Prevea President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about that hope and the importance of at home testing for people who are high risk patients.

HOSPITALIZATIONS AND CASES

“We’ve had a couple of weeks of almost going straight up with almost triple where we were at from our previous highs. We’re starting to see a downward trend. We hope that continues and we hope it’s just as fast going down as it was going up.

VACCINATED PATIENT DEFINITION

“The CDC’s expanded its definition of vaccination. You have your unvaccinated and then what they call your fully vaccinated, that’s somebody whose gotten two shots but not a booster, and then somebody who’s up-to-date on your vaccines. So if you think about having your vaccine card as a kid. Are you up-to-date on your tetanus vaccine? Now to be up-to-date on your COVID vaccine includes having had that booster.

“As we start to risk stratify patients: who’s going to wind up in the hospital today vs. unvaccinated, fully vaccinated and up-to-date on their vaccines, we know from a therapeutic standpoint that when we’re giving medications that the highest at risk people are going to be those who are unvaccinated and those who only got the two shots. That helps differentiate. Every morning when we’re looking at the positives, who do we really need to worry about in the community? Who do we need to offer therapeutics to? It’s really those other two categories with being up-to-date putting you at very low risk. We found out over the last week there’s been three really good articles that say if you’re boosted you’re very well protected from becoming sick or winding up in the hospital. So it’s really those un-boosted patients and this definition helps us sort through that.”

AT HOME TESTS

“I think the most important thing it to understand that as these tests come out, they’re very good for that symptomatic patient. So when you start to develop symptoms, it’s important when you have access to these tests--whether it’s the one you got from a local pharmacy or the one you get from the federal government--to do that test. If it’s positive, believe that result. Record that result, take a picture of it. Make sure you isolate for five days--at least five days--if your symptoms are better you can stop isolation but still wear a mask for the next five days. If it’s negative and you have symptoms, it’s important to understand that there’s two tests in that box for a reason. The next day or in 48 hours, while you’re still isolating, it’s important to retake that test. If that’s still negative, continue to isolate if you still have symptoms and consider going to one of the community testing sites for a PCR test. Our community testing sites throughout the Green Bay area have much better access this week and coming weeks. It’s important to understand you still have that as an option if you don’t have a home test available to you. Schedule it as close to your symptoms as you can. If you do have high risk and qualify for one of the therapeutics, sometimes we need to give that within three days of your symptoms and know that you’re positive. That’s where these tests can come in really handy.”

ORAL TREATMENTS

“From our perspective we want to make sure the highest risk patient gets identified and gets the medication. Who are those patients? Those who have had a recent organ transplant or on chemotherapy; or say they’re 75-years old and haven’t been vaccinated or 65-years old and not vaccinated and other health problems. That’s the NIH Tier One where we aim therapeutics at. Every morning our doctors know who’s positive, be able to sort through that, and we actually have links available for both sides of the state to know what pharmacies are stocking what drug at what time so we understand everyday if we want to give you paxolovid, for example, we’ll send you to ‘X’ pharmacy and hopefully they’ll have the prescription. We knew in the morning they actually had doses. It’s going to be pretty tricky because we want to get to people very early in their symptoms. So within three days for paxolovid and five days for molnupiravir. We want to make sure if you have symptoms and have those high risks you’re getting tested right away.”

HOPE AFTER OMICRON

“I think it’s always good to have hope. We’re starting to see a lot of infection which means there is some developed immunity within communities. It’s important to understand there’s some variables to that that we hope don’t pop up, such as a new variant. With all this replication, there’s a chance of a new variant. I think this surge will come down quickly and we’ll have a good period for awhile. We hope that sustains and that gives us time to work on more therapeutics and better vaccines as we go forward. With omicron coming down, we hope, at least for awhile, we’ll actually have some normalcy to our life.”

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