Science is galloping along at a healthy pace, thanks to the Wuhan virus. All over the world, medical and pharma researchers and practitioners are working with unprecedented focus on drugs to alleviate the symptoms of the virus or for a vaccine. The internet has enabled them to put their findings out in public instantly, many without peer review, and wholly by-passing the filtering and partiality of the medical establishment and the gatekeepers of the learned journals. I expect like me you will delve into the Pubmed site maybe once a week to see how they're all getting on, even if, also like me, a lot of the science is over our heads. And doctors themselves have established unofficial, unsanctioned 'Whatsapp' groups - at no cost whatever to the NHS, and not a single NHS £100k manager to administer them - to share clinical information.
Overnight, this eager and industrious research has overturned the shibboleths of the medical establishment; ventilators, it appears, are a very bad thing. Even if you're unlucky enough to be ill enough to be taken to hospital, where you have a 90% chance of surviving, it falls to 50% if they put you on a ventilator. And if you smoke, keep smoking. As more and more research and data is shared freely online, so the world will learn how best to care for those who fall seriously ill from the Wuhan virus, the most effective prophylactics and the best drugs to alleviate symptoms.
We're also learning in incredible detail the character of the Sars-CoV-2 package. A propensity to antigenic drift and/or shift may mean a vaccine is seeking a moving target - and the Wuhan virus may become an annual visitor, and just as we take a quad-vaccine flu shot each season betting on the four strains most likely to emerge in any year, we will have annual Wuhan shots with two or three likely variations included. However, unless something miraculous happens, no vaccine will be here before next year. And that means we must take a hit before then. And in the worst case, there may be no acquired immunity and no vaccine at all.
That's the bottom line for every nation. Lift lockdowns now to allow the Wuhan bug to climb to an R0 of say R1.05, just enough to be able to pinch it off once maximum NHS capacity is reached, and allow the economy to live. And if there's no acquired immunity, then the Wuhan virus will become a deadly variation of the common cold, one that carries-off an additional 100,000 UK citizens a year, and it will change forever the way we live.
Right now the energy, ingenuity and application of the chaotic anarchy of scientific research and scholarly internet publication is coming each day closer to letting us know the score. They're quite capable of filtering-out the snake oil, and we should be cautious of any pharma company claiming to have a miracle drug. If I clap anyone today, it will be those internet research heroes, the doctors and scientists delivering data and research hot on our screens each day.