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Doctors at 4 metro Detroit health systems experimenting together to fight coronavirus

Posted at 5:39 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 17:39:02-04

(WXYZ) — COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate in southeast Michigan, so health professionals are coming together for a common cause. The four biggest health systems are teaming up to share best practices and begin clinical trials on experimental drugs to combat coronavirus.

"You can’t just start giving medications without really proving the concept, so we’d like to begin clinical trials collaboratively," Dr David said.

While competition is normally the name of the game for health systems around the country, COVID1-9 has changed this. Physicians at Ascension Michigan, Beaumont Health, Wayne State University and Henry Ford Health System are coming together to tackle the pandemic.

"All of our heads together is better than one," he added.

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Meeting for the first time last Friday, the physicians plan to pool their resources together by sharing best practices, but also boosting the sample size of any clinical trial.

"Big research studies need time, but also need a certain number of patients to prove indeed that a certain treatment is number-one feasible, and number-two effective and number-three safe, and so for us to really reach that perfect scenario we’d need a collaboration on that level between our three hospital systems," Dr. Abbas Said.

The consortium was spearheaded by Dr. William O’Neill, the director of Henry Ford Health System’s Structural Heart Program, who found success previously collaborating around cardiogenic shock. Joining forces for COVID-19 was no-brainier.

"We’re not competing for COVID patients, nobody is trying to get more of a market share for that. We want to really figure out how to optimally treat these patients, not in a haphazard way but to really protocolize and systemetize so that we can all do things effectively, and importantly to quickly track outcomes," O'Neill said.

Pharmaceutical companies are looking to test COVID-19 drugs in centers that are organized and effective with research. Dr. O’Neill hopes this consortium will make Michigan an attractive space for such tests.

"What we’re all trying to do, we’re all trying to improve the healthcare, improve the chances the patients here in southeast Michigan, that god forbid they get infected will optimize the chances that they’re going to survive," he said.

O’Neill says the group is currently in talks with Moderna to trial a vaccine for healthcare workers on the front lines. This would be available in the next few weeks. They’re also speaking with Takeda pharmaceuticals about a hyper-immune serum.

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