UPDATE: THURSDAY, MARCH 26 9:00 A.M.
According to Bates men’s lacrosse coach Peter Lasagna, it is hoped that Allard can soon begin receiving Remdesivir, an experimental drug produced by Gilead Sciences Inc.
On Wednesday afternoon, Genny Allard, Jack’s mother, sent a message to Lasagna and others expressing great confidence in the treatment he’s receiving in Philadelphia.
“Jack’s oxygen levels continue to improve,” Lasagna said. “If his liver function numbers get better he could start the new drugs (Thursday).”
Allard, a 2016 Bates graduate, remains in critical condition. He is in a medically-induced coma and breathing with the help of a ventilator. But getting him into the trial helped alleviate some of the frustration and anxiety his family and friends are experiencing, first with getting Allard diagnosed, then with getting him access to the experimental drug.
Allard became ill on March 13 with symptoms that included vomiting, back pain and fever. A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Allard was working as an associate of Bank of America in Manhattan when he fell ill. He had not traveled outside of the country recently and did not have a cough before the other symptoms emerged. He checked himself into the hospital on March 15 and was tested the next day for COVID-19 but the lab handling the test lost it, according to The Daily Voice, a newspaper in Ridgewood.
As Allard’s condition worsened, his family became convinced that he had the coronavirus and began exploring options to have him treated as soon as possible, once a second test confirmed it. The Daily Voice reported that five days later, Allard was given a second test, which came back positive.
“That was devastating to the family, obviously,” Lasagna said. “But once he got that positive test they could get back to working on getting him into a clinical trial (for Remdesivir).” “Their case was here’s a young, healthy 25-year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions. If there was anyone you wanted in your trial to find out if it works, he was it,” Lasagna said.
Doctors requested the drug on Allard’s behalf on Saturday. But citing overwhelming demand for Remdesivir, Gilead announced on Sunday that it would be limiting the drug’s availability to “individual compassionate requests” from pregnant women and children under 18. Allard’s family enlisted the help of a local congressman to lobby the company to make an exception for Allard, and they learned Tuesday that his request had been approved.
Doctors hope the drug, which had previously been tested on Ebola, SARS and MERS viruses, will slow the virus and allow Allard’s immune system to battle it. “His doctors say this is something that can really help him,” Genny Allard said in an interview on Fox News Network on Tuesday night. “We really think this is the best chance he has to survive it.”
Allard was transferred to the hospital in Pennsylvania because it was a critical care facility with the capability of providing an “extracorporeal membrane oxygenation” (ECMO) machine, which Genny Allard said her son may need as part of his treatment. “ECMO was explained to me as a kind of dialysis for your lungs,” she said in the interview.