MANILA - Coronavirus patients requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation now have good survival rate compared to when the pandemic began, a Filipino pulmonary critical care specialist said Tuesday.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Dr. Jubert Benedicto of the Philippine General Hospital (PHG) and Lung Center of the Philippines said ending up in a ventilator due to critical case of coronavirus infection is not necessarily almost a death sentence now.
"Noong simula ng pandemya, noong March to April, kapag sinabing inintubate ang isang pasyente, halos more than 50 percent of the time, associated with deaths talaga," he said.
(At the start of the pandemic, in March to April, if a patient is intubated, more than 50 percent of the time, it is really associated with death.)
"Sa ngayon po, kapag na-intubate ang isang pasyente, dahil may mas alam na kami doon sa sakit, more or less, mula sa 50-50, I can say 6 out of 10 patients kaya pa rin matanggal sa respirator," added Benedicto, who is also a board member of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians.
(Now, if a patient is intubated, because we have more knowledge already about the disease, more or less, from 50-50, I can say 6 out of 10 patients can be taken out of respirator.)
As they have become more skilled in tackling the novel coronavirus, he also said they had employed new strategy by giving high-flow nasal cannula oxygen to patients with mild to moderate acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
The non-invasive respiratory support, which is capable of delivering up to 100 percent humidified and heated oxygen, have kept death rates low, Benedicto said.
"Gamechanger siya. Napalitan niya 'yung way we are approaching itong COVID-19. And because of that, nape-prevent niya 'yung intubation. Mas nakikita po namin na gumagaling 'yung pasyente," he said.
(It's a game-changer. It altered the way we are approaching this COVID-19. And because of that, intubation is being prevented. We can see that patients are recovering.)
The use of steroid dexamethasone, which improves the survival of critically-ill patients, and the antiviral drug remdesivir have also helped the fight against COVID-19, he said.
Since a stricter lockdown was imposed in Metro Manila following the appeal of the medical community for a "timeout," Benedicto said they had taken a much-needed breather before the country's health system would be stretched to its limits.
"Ang gusto namin ay mareserba ang mga kama ng ospital doon sa nangangailangan ng attention - 'yung mga moderate, severe at critical case. Sila 'yung nahihirapan huminga at masasabing kunting kilos lang ay hinihingal na," he said.
Benedicto advised the public to buy a pulse oximeter, an electronic device that measures oxygen levels in red blood cells.
Normal pulse oximeter reading starts at 93, he said. Those with values under 90, which are considered low, should advise checking with a doctor for possible oxygenation problem, especially if they exhibit mild symptoms for COVID-19.
"Kung kaya po natin, mas maganda na meron kayong ganiyang gadget sa bahay," Benedicto said.
To date, the Philippines has recorded 139,538 coronavirus infections, of which 68,794 are considered active cases. The tally also include 2,312 people who have succumbed to the disease while 68,432 have recovered from COVID-19.
The Philippines logged its first case on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the novel coronavirus is believed to have been detected late last year.