'I was at the point where I didn't think I was going to make it': Cary man shares his battle with COVID-19

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Cary man said COVID-19 was the worst illness he's ever had.

"I was at the point where I didn't think I was going to make it. I was really bad, suffering with the breathing and everything," said Jonathan Pannaman.

While being treated at Duke Raleigh Hospital, Pannaman signed up to be part of a study and receive experimental treatments similar to those given to President Donald Trump during his hospital stay.

The treatment is called ACTIV-3: Therapeutics for Inpatients with COVID or TICO. It looks at the safety and effectiveness of different drugs in treating COVID-19 in people who have been hospitalized with the infection. Participants like Jonathan get treated with either a drug or placebo.

Duke's study tests an antibody targeted against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2--the virus that causes COVID-19.

This is the first in a group of therapies designed specifically to fight COVID-19.

Jonathan still was treated with anti-viral Remdesivir as well as steroids and blood thinners while he was in the hospital.

He said the treatment came through an IV and took about an hour.

"They'd take my blood every night and check my blood levels but in addition to that, the regular treatment continued for five days," he said.

He said he might never know if the anti-virals, steroids, or the experimental treatment helped him fight the virus, since the study is blind.

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"I can't say for sure which treatment, whatever it is they gave me, knocked out the COVID," he said. "But it crushed it, got it out of my lungs and made me able to breathe again."

So far about 60 people have been enrolled across the Duke Health System in the study. Of those, half received the antibody and the other half a placebo. The goal is to enroll 1,000 people around the world, according to Dr. Christina Barkauskas, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine.

Jonathan believes he got the infection from his son--whose roommate was exposed to the virus.
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