FAQ: How MHH handles this situation
The number of COVID-19 patients has been declining for some time. The situation in the intensive care units is correspondingly relaxed.
A separate waiting area has been installed for patients - like a kind of airlock. Anyone showing symptoms and having questions should report there so that they do not come into contact with other patients. Please note: The clarification of suspected cases is the primary task of outpatient care, i.e. not of the MHH or the central emergency department. Patients suspected of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 first contact their General Practitioner - by telephone before a visit.
The MHH is particularly suitable for the treatment of very seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The patient rooms on the infection ward are equipped with an airlock to prevent contaminated air from escaping.
At the moment we are facing a virus that is currently untreatable. This time, too, there will be considerationson possible vaccination strategies. But this will only help those who are not yet infected. This means that the treatment is limited to alleviating the symptoms, i.e. to dampen strong febrile reactions with antipyretic drugs, to support the patient’s circulation and if breathing is difficult, oxygen is given.
In severe cases, patients are connected to a ventilator, which means that they are admitted to the intensive care unit in hospital. There they often have to be treated for a very long time, i.e. three to four weeks.
None of the drugs currently under public discussion, such as those for malaria, HIV or Ebola, are used by the MHH. These are all potentially effective, but the problem is that there are no reliable data on the effects and side effects of all these drugs in Covid-19 patients.
The big challenge for doctors and nurses is that this disease is different from those known to date. The course of the disease is extremely difficult to predict and is often wavelike - i.e. the patient is doing well and then suddenly the condition worsens again for a variety of reasons.
All clinics currently record their capacities - on the web-based platform Ivena (interdisciplinary proof of care). Here they note which and how many intensive care patients they treat and which special equipment they need. All this data is networked in real time. In this way, every clinic in Lower Saxony and Bremen can see where what capacities are available to treat COVID patients in a very special way - including intensive care medicine and special lung replacement procedures.
Yes, there are various research activities related to this virus: We are currently starting work on antibodies to protect against SARS-CoV2 and we have started to test potential coronavirus vaccines in preclinical trials. This research is taking place within the RESIST cluster of excellence. In addition, scientists from the MHH, the TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) are currently initiating further research. These focus on the development of new antiviral agents as a basis for the development of a drug, investigations into the innate and adaptive immune response against the SARS-CoV2 virus, and the clarification of whether there are genetic reasons for a higher susceptibility to the SARS-CoV2 virus.
Closer to clinical application is an MHH project of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Transfusion Medicine, which aims at the therapeutic use of plasma donations from people who have undergone the disease and are healthy again. The hope here is that such people may have developed protective antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 that could be given to seriously ill patients.