I think the picture is going to get more complicated. The fact that people turn blue (cyanotic) before dying is a clue. It might not just be the lungs able to function properly...there may be problems with red blood cells delivering oxygen. New articles are discussing that ventilators are not necessarily helping and their extended use with COVID-19 patients may be causing more harm.
This is a single center prospective pilot cohort study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as an emergency investigational device for treating patients with a novel coronavirus, disease, COVID-19. Patients that meet inclusion criteria will be consented by the hyperbaric physician. They will then be transported from the ED or other unit to the hyperbaric unit maintaining airborne precautions based on the most current hospital protocol.
Here is another critical care doc trying hyperbaric oxygen:
I am a Critical Care physician trained in Hyperbaric Medicine. Sadly, my ICU is currently full of critically ill patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, most of them intubated. My colleagues and I have been caring for them for several days, so I have some insight into the issue of critically ill patients with COVID-19 Pneumonia. In COVID-19 pneumonia, the lungs are not able to allow oxygen to diffuse to the bloodstream. I have read the article by Chen and colleagues. At least one hope is that the significant elevation in inspired oxygen during HBOT would enable oxygen to reach the arterioles even though the air sacs of the alveoli are damaged....I think HBOT is a viable option for COVID-19 hypoxia. I am unsure whether it is a PRACTICAL option. We are finding that a cytokine storm occurs around “day 7” of infection. About 6-10 days into the illness, this storm and its consequences can be quite severe. This cytokine storm can lead to severe Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and profound hypoxemia.