May 3, 2020
One has to look on the lighter side of Doom occasionally, even though frowning and tut-tutting is de rigueur.
An extensive survey underway in the UK led by Imperial College , Edinburgh and Leeds universities is collecting blood samples and other clinical data from COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
This UK-wide study is called the International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consortium (ISARIC4C) study.
The ISARIC4C study, the largest undertaken in Europe, involves a national consortium of researchers that will gather data from more than 15,000 patients with COVID-19 admitted to 166 hospitals throughout the UK. Some of these samples have already been analysed by scientists at Imperial.
Preliminary analysis confirms that high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, obesity and chronic lung disease are risk factors that can lead to severe cases of COVID-19. The team will continue to collect more samples from patients over the next year and start reporting results over the next few weeks.
Again, this supports other findings from around the world about the extra risks of obesity, high blood pressure and diverse other problems.
Some of the microbiologists are saying that this will not be over for quite some time ….
“This thing’s not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people,” Mike Osterholm, PhD, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, told CNN. “The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology.”
Depressing, but probably true. On the other hand, we know much more about it with every passing day and with all the brain-power working on it around the world, some whizz-kid may come up with a therapeutic soon, maybe even a vaccine.
On the vaccine front, Oxford University in the UK is making noises about their prototype vaccine already in clinical trials. These folks have been working on corona viruses for years so they have a bit of head start.
Researchers at the University of Oxford have started clinical trials with humans for a coronavirus vaccine and might have results in a couple of months, the university said in a news release. From WebMD:
The school said around 1,110 people who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will take part, with half receiving the vaccine and the other half — the control group — receiving a meningitis vaccine. They will keep a diary and have blood samples taken to show how they’re responding to the vaccine.
On the drug front for prophylaxis or therapy, these was an interesting Fake News media reaction to the possible beneficial effects of hydroxychloroquine. As soon as President Trump mentioned it, a barrage of obfuscating nonsense emerged. And when certain doctors reported that it was effective in certain circumstances, they were immediately slandered. An interesting article Pseudo-science behind the Assault on Hydroxychloroquine [here] surveys the background:
On April 6, Peter Navarro told CNN that “Virtually Every COVID-19 Patient In New York Is Given Hydroxychloroquine.” This might explain decrease in COVID-19 deaths in the New York state after April 15. The time lag is because COVID-19 deaths happen on average 14 days after showing symptoms.
But on April 21, several perfectly coordinated events took place, attacking HCQ’s use for COVID-19 patients.
1. The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel of the National Institute of Health issued recommendations with negative-ambivalent stance regarding the use of HCQ as a COVID-19 treatment. This surprising stance was taken contrary to the ample evidence of the efficacy and safety of HCQ and despite absence evidence of its harm. The panel also strongly recommended against the use of hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin (AZ), the combination of choice among practitioners.
2. On the same day, a paper (Magagnoli, 2020) was posted on a pre-print server medRxiv, insinuating that HCQ is not only ineffective, but even harmful. This not-yet peer reviewed paper, by unqualified authors with conflicts of interest, received wall-to-wall media coverage, as it if were a cancer cure. It used data from Veterans Administration hospitals, spicing its effects. The paper has shown to be somewhere between junk science and fraud.
3. Rick Bright, a government official who was probably more responsible for the low level of preparedness to the epidemic than most others, and had been re-assigned to a lower position earlier, emerged as a “whistleblower.” He claimed he had been demoted for opposing hydroxychloroquine, the claim to be soon debunked by documents bearing his signature. The media also gave him a wall-to-wall coverage.
The doctors Didier and Raoult who pioneered its use and reported great success were smeared in the media and the pseudo-science media to such an extent that they replied acidly (rarely seen in scientific papers) thus in a new paper: Scientific fraud to demonstrate the lack of efficacy of hydroxychloroquine compared to placebo in a non-randomized retrospective cohort of patients with Covid: Response to MAHEVAS et al. , MedRxiv, 2020. (Brouqui, et al., 2020). (Mahevas, 2020) also gathered many negative comments on MedRxiv.
None of this fazes other nations around the world:
On March 28, Russia announced a COVID-19 treatment based on Mefloquine. Mefloquine, invented in the US in 1970s, is another anti-malaria drug, similar to HCQ. In the West, Mefloquine was withdrawn from use after a controversy about its long-term effects. Russia might also use HCQ. From a Russian brochure (Nikiforov, 2020):
These drugs have a comprehensive negative effect on the coronavirus. It may take years of scientific experimentation to understand how and what exactly they affect. Now the fact of a positive effect has been established, and the drugs should and will be used.
The mechanisms of HCQ and HCQ+AZ action are explained (Hache & Raoult, 2020).
It’s a perceptive assessment of the appalling behavior of the dogs in the media when chasing one of their bones of Trump-hatred.