A doctor at Meharry Medical College is reportedly two weeks away from testing an anti-virus that can help treat COVID-19 patients.
According to a report from NBC News, Dr. Donald Alcendor has been developing the anti-virus at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennesse. Meharry was founded in 1876 to teach medicine to former enslaved Africans, serving the under-served producing over 4,800 Black doctors and are now joining in the race to advance treatment for the coronavirus. The university is committed to the cause considering COVID-19 is devastating Black people, a community they seek to serve.
“And that makes us all at Meharry compelled to do our best,” explained Alcendor, who worked on a successful anti-virus to the Zika virus.
A vaccine for the coronavirus, which would prevent contraction of the disease, will take up to 18 months to produce, according to Alcendor and other scientists. However, an anti-viral drug could be used to treat patients once they’re infected now to stave off the spread and deaths associated with the novel virus.
“The process is understanding how the virus gets into your system, where it goes and how it infects,” Alcendor said about creating an antiviral drug. “The struggle is that it is a single-strand that produces tremendous inflammation. The patient will feel like he’s drowning.”
Recent reports suggest that Black people have tested positive and died from the coronavirus at a higher rate than any other ethnic or racial group in the United States.
Dr. James Hildreth, President of Meharry Medical College and infectious disease doctor, has been pushing for advanced or pre-emptive screening in Black neighborhoods for weeks.
“The main thing driving us is the knowledge is when COVID-19 gets into minority communities because the disproportionate burden of hypertension, diabetes, obesity; the outcome will be much poorer than would be otherwise,” said Dr. James Hildreth.
Researchers are saying that minorities are dying from the virus at much higher rates, according to reports in Nashville half of the cases of the coronavirus are white residents, 13% black, 12% other/multiracial and 15% cases are pending.
Hildreth, an infectious disease doctor, and President of Meharry Medical College has teamed up with Congress. In a bill he helped design, it would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to collect and report racial, ethnic, and other demographic data on COVID-19 testing, treatment, and fatality rates, and provide a summary of the final statistics and a report to Congress within 60 days after the end of the public health emergency.
“COVID-19 has definitely shined a bright spotlight on the fact that in poor and minority communities there’s a disproportionate burden of all those things we talk about; asthma, lung diabetes, hypertension,” said Hildreth.
The U.S. has over 700,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus to date.