COVID-19 Patient’s Remarkable Recovery Prompts Florida Officials to Consider Hydroxychloroquine for Treatment

Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 7:07 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Right now, there is still no official cure for Covid-19, but there is one possible drug that officials are currently looking at. That treatment, helped save the life of one South Florida man.

"For all intents and purposes, Hhydroxychloroquine saved my life,” Rio Giardinieri said to ABC7’s Rebecca Fernandez.

Giardinieri first spent five days at home with severe symptoms, before a hospital in Hollywood finally tested him and then admitted him. He was then in the ICU for another five days.

"Things started really progressing. I couldn't catch my breath. It was becoming a labor to even talk and have conversation. I dint think id even see Saturday morning. I started making some calls to my friends and my family, and trying to say my goodbyes but without scaring anyone,” explained Giardinieri.

Giardinieri says one of his good friends sent him an article about a drug being used overseas to treat coronavirus patients. It was an anti-malaria medicine called Hydroxychloroquine. After speaking to the infectious disease doctor about it, Giardinieri decided that even though this drug hasn't been proven to cure the coronavirus here in the United States, he had nothing to lose by taking it at that point.

"I went to sleep at 11 o'clock at night, and I woke up at 4:45 in the morning. It just dawned on me... I said, wait a minute? I feel fine. I can breathe. This is crazy. I knew the fever was gone. I still had a low-grade headache, but it was shocking... the difference in those 8 to 10 hours,” expressed Giardinieri.

Since there haven't been many effective treatments to fight this virus, government officials are now considering Hydroxychloroquine even more after learning about Giardinieri's recovery.

"We had a Floridian who used it and was in very bad shape and it seemed to clear up the lungs and the virus. I’m not a doctor. I’m not telling anyone to take it or not take it, but I do believe in the idea of a right to try,” Governor DeSantis said, “If someone is in bad shape and there is no other treatment available and a doctor believes this is something that is helpful, we want that patient be able to have that.”

Governor DeSantis said that the U.S. Ambassador for Israel got him in contact with the maker, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and we now have thousands of shipments of the drug coming to Florida hospitals in Miami-Dade, Broward, Orlando and Hillsborough counties.

“Once they have it, and other counties need it, we will arrange for that as well. We want to be able to help people throughout the state and we will work to coordinate that. If someone is in dire condition and has no other option, we want to be able to give them all the opportunities they have,” DeSantis explained.

Although Hydroxychloroquine is not yet prescribed for coronavirus, doctors can use it as an off-label drug. This means you can legally use it in the United States since it has been approved by the FDA, but you're just using it for a different reason.

Plus, some other good news, Giardinieri said his insurance covered most of the cost. He only had to pay $7.50.

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