Clinical trial begins for critically ill COVID-19 patients

Shawn Neisteadt
Sanford Health Media Relations
605-366-2432 /

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Aug. 12, 2020 — Sanford Health has a new option for the most critically ill patients battling complications from COVID-19. The I-SPY trial administers a medication, or combination of medications, for patients requiring a high flow of oxygen.

I-SPY was announced in April by Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative, a nonprofit organization focused on uniting patient care and research. The goal is to rapidly identify therapies to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“We are always pushing at Sanford Health to be on the front lines of emerging trends,” said Paul Berger, D.O., FCCP, the lead physician for the clinical trial and a specialist in respiratory and critical care medicine at Sanford Health. “To be able to offer this experimental therapy to the most ill patients while gathering data that can potentially help many more patients in the future is a major step forward against this new virus.”

Patients for this trial will be identified by their treating physicians in the COVID-19 unit at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. There are plans to expand the trial to Sanford Fargo Medical Center.

In this trial, a placebo is not used. Remdesivir will be the constant medication that all enrolled patients will receive. Some patients will receive additional medication. Remdesivir has previously been tested against MERS and SARS in laboratory and animal studies. While not all details are known, scientists believe remdesivir could interrupt the ability of the virus to duplicate itself.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 44 hospitals, 1,400 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have transformed how Sanford Health improves the human condition. For information, visit