By Stephanie Stahl

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — Treatments for COVID-19 are evolving. New research out Wednesday shows a steroid treatment saves lives while a government review says convalescent plasma might not.

At the beginning of the pandemic, ventilators were thought to save lives. Not so much anymore as research has shown they can do more harm than good. But a Washington Township father has survived after weeks on a ventilator and he has an important message about taking the virus seriously.

“I’m home with my family,” COVID-19 survivor Kevin Jackson said, “and I’m just happy to be alive.”

Jackson just barely survived COVID-19. He was one of the first serious coronavirus patients at Jefferson Health New Jersey where Jackson, who’s obese and diabetic, had to be intubated — put on a ventilator.

“We didn’t have much to offer as far as therapeutic,” said Dr. Todd Levin, an infectious disease physician at Jefferson Health New Jersey.

Levin says Jackson was briefly giving hydroxychloroquine, but it caused heart problems and was stopped.

“Since then, we have had some therapeutics that have been approved,” Levin said.

Better treatments for COVID-19 include remdesivir and a steroid called dexamethasone, which new research show reduces deaths. Earlier treatments have been shown to be less effective, including hydroxychloroquine and ventilators. Now the benefits of convalescent plasma are being questioned.

“We certainly have become more comfortable treating it and feel like we know how to treat the virus better,” Levin said.

When asked what doctors are doing now that they weren’t doing before, Levin said, “We are not intubating as much as possible.”

That’s why Jackson, a father of six, is so lucky.

Being an early patient, treatment options for him were limited.

“It was really, really scary for a while,” Jackson said.

“It’s been the most horrendous experience of my entire life,” Melissa Jackson, Kevin’s wife, said. “The most difficult part is not being able to be there with him and not being able to hold his hand through all of it.”

Jackson and his wife credit his survival to his medical team and the power of prayer and love.

“My kids sang gospel music to me over the phone,” he said. “All up and down the East Coast, I was on prayer lists.”

Five months later, Jackson is still recovering and has a message for everyone.

“COVID is real. We should protect ourselves and our loved ones,” he said.

Jackson says it’s frustrating to see people who don’t take precautions of social distancing and wearing masks even though most COVID-19 patients don’t get as sick as he did.

Stephanie Stahl