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Thursday, 30 April 2020

Snake oil and miracle drugs

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.


Smoking Scot said...

From day one my understanding was that the virus is here to stay and a lockdown necessary to:

- Avoid the first (real big) wave of infections.

- Get the medics the personal kit and equipment to cope with subsequent gyrations, some scary, that eventually lead to a manageable, routine virus issue.

- That three weeks would suffice to nail the rate of infection, leading to the health infrastructure being able to cope.

Turns out the biggest issue is getting the protective gear the poor souls at the sharp end must have. The hardware is no longer the issue. Just masks, gowns and gloves. And the staff; too many of whom have themselves been infected, and far too many have died, or gut churningly, committed suicide.

That ticks me off real bad Raedwald et al. That must be investigated right now and those responsible made to pay penance.

And that's why we're still under lockdown. And why lord knows what is going on behind closed doors in thousands of households, leading to some nasty, some spectacular, all plain sad taking of lives, mostly those with lots to live for.

We speculate about the economy - and it'll take years to recover. Undoubtedly it will, but we don't talk enough about the scars it'll leave behind and not just those who have had the virus, many of whom will have serious lung and internal organ issues. The mental health issues will be a big, long term factor too.

I have no problem with social distancing, nor of being blasted with bug killer on every form of public transport. Think the masks are a great idea, partly because I believe eyes are a better conveyor of intent.

I was furious when I learned our troops were made to fight in the Middle East without suitable body armour. I'm equally hacked our medics are being made to do the same right here, right now.

(And yes, it is utterly disgusting that tobacco, sugar, alcohol and so on controllers are still taking hundreds of millions out of our health services, while being on full salary themselves).

Not interested in a vaccine right now Raedwald, what we need is a rock solid antibody test that can be brought to market for less than a fiver.

JPM said...

Why "must" we take a hit?

New Zealand, probably Australia, and Vietnam would appear not to be in that position, along with other, larger countries.

But they had neither Trump nor the UK Tories, nor Bolsonaro in control of their countries.

Shoot that bleach.

Mark said...

Can please take you foaming, rabid hate elsewhere?

If you want to spit hate at the tories and Britain there are places you can do this to your hearts content - twatter for example.

You're not even trolling anymore.

DJK said...

There are only two stable end states.

If you keep R0 below 1, the virus will die away. Initially this is done with lockdown. Then later, when the number of cases is more manageable, it can be done with track, trace and quarantine. You probably need to quarantine overseas visitors too, to stop the virus being re-seeded. Masks, social distancing, etc in various combinations also help reduce R0.

Alternatively, if R0 is above 1, herd immunity will be acquired, when the infected don't meet enough uninfected. Masks, social distancing, etc reduce R0 closer to 1 so that herd immunity is reached with a smaller proportion of the population dead or infected. This appears to be the strategy the govt is persuing, and the strategy that many people here favour. It means that airports can stay open, but it also means that if you try to visit anywhere else from the UK you'll be quarantined as coming from a plague island.

terence patrick hewett said...

Use Dr Collis Brown's Chlorodyne only 7/6d for the large economy size. Recommended by Big White Carstairs and the Subadar.

Thud said...

The likes of Pfizer etc do not produce snake oil and the virus is quite stable and mutates at a slower rate than flu.

DJK said...

It seems to me that keeping R0 below 1 is the best strategy. Employing a small army of testers and contact tracers is probably cheaper than keeping the NHS expanded to deal with background cases of C-19, and periodic flare-ups. Besides which, the economy is likely to be healthier if the UK is largely disease free, compared to the herd immunity case when older people with money, are fearful of venturing out and catching a fatal disease. Aus, NZ, South Korea, Vietnam, etc, show it can be done.

There is as yet no counter example of a country reaching stable herd immunity.

jim said...

Change forever the way we live. Well someone seems to have developed an antibody test and where there are antibodies there is a good chance of a vaccine. Sooner or later we will get out from under this.

But will it change the way we live. The pundits are telling us that big office blocks and commuter trains will be a thing of the past. We will work more from home. Not so bad if you live in a 5 bed semi, one bedroom turned into an office. Not so good if you live in a small place running alive with kids. Maybe, most of what pundits say is rubbish, tomorrow is usually a lot like today but with a few corners rubbed smoother.

Looking five years down the pike. Provided things don't go really pear shaped we will have a vaccine, most of the world will have had it and things will be more or less back to normal. We will have had a nasty scare. Governments will probably become shy of running healthcare on the cheap again. A bit more resilience built in - at a cost. Care homes may no longer smell of piss and have sticky carpets plus one 3rd world carer for 50 inmates. So perhaps more money on our social infrastructure and a bit less on something else. Pay and pensions might be reduced, houses a bit cheaper, it's an ill wind.

Curiously the world of the chattering classes (including the blogs) seems roughly equally divided between the gung-ho let it rippers and the take it cautiously types. On many issues that do not have obvious evidence people seem to divide roughly equally. Maybe this is an evolutionary survival mechanism. Half take this path and die, the other half survive.

Dave_G said...

There is no cure for a virus especially one that mutates as Covid appears likely to be doing.

What we see are the major pharma seeking a 'golden opportunity' to deliver something governments and the people would sanction £000's per dose to issue. Witness the Remvidir (? spelling) debacle - a 'cure' that has debilitating side effects yet is seen to be increasing that companies share value enormously. As ever there are those seeking to extract their pound of flesh from the innocent regardless of the consequences and this fact is even more readily apparent when taking CHQ into account - a KNOWN successful treatment yet one that is remoreselessly denigrated in the media and elsewhere - maybe because it is 'pennies per dose' perhaps?

The stated excess deaths of +100k as a result of Covid on going pales into insignificance when looking at the claimed 800k that the 1968 Hong Kong flu brought about - but without the hysteria.

Meanwhile we're still being taxed when the banks seem to be given permission to print whatever sums they feel fit to secure the economy. How about just printing instead of taxing us then? How will that work out for us?

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to hear on the (BBC) news yesterday that doctors are trialing five different medicines with older patients who are COVID-19 positive, including known anti-viral and anti-malarial drugs. The only anti-malarial in use anywhere is of course our old friend (literally) Hydroxychloroqiune. People call it snake oil because it hasn't been approved and some because.. Orange Man Bad said it was a "game changer". So bad Boris Johnson took it and it saved his life.

Virologists suggest Vitamin D (D3 to be exact) is the Kevlar vest of supplements, typically 2000iu's daily for honkeys, going up to 5000iu's for those of a sub-Saharan persuasion. A sensible precaution against the 19nm Wuhan virabellum.

Good article Raedwald.


Unknown said...

"How about just printing instead of taxing us then?"

Just printing is fine until inflation gets too high. Would a government be able to restrain its spending and printing when inflation started to get too high ? See Zimbabwe for an example.

The other problem is that taxes are the justification for democracy. "No taxation without representation" mean that if taxes are abolished there is no need for representation. See Saudi Arabia for an example.

Just "printing" becomes very tempting when money is just a number on a spreadsheet, with no physical component, not even bits of paper.

Don Cox

Jack the dog said...

Good article in the SPeccy today by Dr Lee - basically suggesting that one effect of the lockdown may be to slow the evolution of the virus into a less harmful one, as viruses generally tend to.

Unfortunately the effects of project fear (ii) have been all too effective and now it seems, ridiculously, that 70% of people are afraid to go out even if lockdown were lifted tomorrow.

Dave_G said...

@DonCox - Government tax take is around 750bn annually, the QE figure announced in March for 2020 (so far, there's a long part of the year still to go) is already 645bn.

Another 105bn and we might as well not pay any taxes and simply run the printers 24/7 for as long as it lasts. Clearly 645bn of 'manufactured' money (likely conflated 10x by lenders) is small change in the scheme of things.

But we must think of the children/applaud the NHS instead of considering these implications.

Anonymous said...

It would be much simpler to outsource management to the Germans. If that sticks in your craw then Jessica Arden?

Even the USA's Prof Dzau is placing his faith in the EU.

Let's see where they UK stands. Unless they mislaid the email.

Anonymous said...

Snake Oil Update

I think we all know that Italy has had more than a terrible experience with the Wuhan virus - seeded from cheap immigrant labour returning from Chinese New Year celebrations, back in Hubei Province. Well, a new study from hard-hit Italy found that those Italians on hydroxychloroquine for Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis did not come down with the coronavirus.

Only 20 patients tested positive for COVID-19. No ICU, and no one died. So despite comorbidities the patients on hydroxychloroquine did not succumb to coronavirus.

Italian Study Finds incredible prophylaxis results for patients on Hydroxychloroquine

James Todaro, MD:

The Italian Society for Rheumatology studied 65,000 patients on long term hydroxychloroquine for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.

Only 20 patients tested positive for COVID-19. No ICU, no deaths.

This is a 90 per cent reduction in infection rate compared to the rest of Italy.


Mark said...

Outsource management to the Germans?

History would suggest that's generally not a good idea.

Unknown said...

Hydroxychloroquine does have side effects, so you can't just dish it out to the whole population, even if it does prevent Covid-19 infection.

John Brown said...

Is the reason Covid-19 appears so deadly compared to ‘flu’ is because it is a new virus and hence all those who are vulnerable are exposed immediately as opposed to gradually over the years and the elderly have not been exposed when younger when they could have been strong enough to build up some immunity ?

Dave_G said...

More disinformation from 'unknown' at 17:17.

Yes, HCQ has side effects but that's if you take it exclusively and overdose on it.

HCQ on its own is not the 'cure' - it must be taken with Zinc and A.N.Other (I can't recall) to be effective and the minimal period of consumption (only a couple of days apparently) means OD-ing on HCQ alone is impossible/improbable.

The idea that HCQ has side effects is being deliberately touted to prevent its widespread use - the last thing TPTB want is for us to actually 'be well' and free of our lockdown.

The news tonight started talking about the 'economic impact of Corona Virus'. Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break. As if there wasn't an economic crisis (or one that was/is about to befall us) before Corona came along?

Now that a suitable excuse has been hammered into the public consciousness it's time for .Gov and the Banksters to roll out their 'cure' for it.

I can guarantee it will be far, far worse than the virus.

Look! A Squirrel!

Anonymous said...

Unknown said @ 17:17

'Hydroxychloroquine does have side effects, so you can't just dish it out to the whole population, even if it does prevent Covid-19 infection.'

If you don't mind I'll unpack that:

1. Side effects are well known (it's been in use for over half a century) and only reach moderate levels even when taken over an extended period. For COVID-19 a cocktail of HCQ + Azithromycin + in some instances a pharma grade Zinc supplement, for 6 days, will suffice - which will cost you about $20 in the States.

2. You wouldn't need to 'dish it out to the whole population', only those who were symptomatic and vulnerable at the same time. It's a prophylactic not a vaccine.

Always consult a doctor.


Span Ows said...

John Brown 18:45 "Is the reason Covid-19 appears so deadly compared to ‘flu’..."

NO, if 'flu' were measured the same way we are 'measuring' COVID it would have a death rate of about 10%.

Dave_G, Steve, your're missing the main thing: "Hydroxychloroquine does have side effects..." SO DOES ASPIRIN, fucking dozens. If aspirin were put forward today as a new drug it would FAIL repeatedly and never be allowed.

Anonymous said...

@dave g

What do you think this cure is ?

You hint at these dark forces as if you know something. Trust me, I guarantee if you do know something
These dark forces know who you are.
Please tell us what you know before they come for you.

Anonymous said...

So many experts!


Dave_G said...

Anon 20:12

I wish I knew (what their cure was [going to be]). The point is that people are being misdirected whilst the economy collapses and currencies fail. Covid came along suspiciously conveniently to redirect blame for all sorts of social and economic failures on.

There is more than enough past evidence to illustrate the current Covid scare is nothing worse than other annual epidemics that didn't elicit the response we have now. Even the social commentators are now asking why the models for infection/deaths was so wrong and why the global shut down was necessary (it wasn't).

Distraction politics is very common these days - it used to be known as 'a good day to bury bad news' except they've managed to make it a good 2 MONTHS to do the burying (so far) and not enough people are asking where the (economic) bodies are.

Given time I suspect there will be more deaths by suicide than by Covid - suicide from desperation/loss etc. Now THAT will be a tragedy.

Hancock said...

So, 100,000 tests by April 2021.


Span Ows said...

anon 21:16

not experts, nobody is claiming any such thing. Opinions based on published facts mostly.

That said, we did see a huge spike in the D-K effect in the last 4 years, displayed by a vast majority of 'Remainers'. IYI especially.

What say you Michael?

John Brown said...

Miracle Drugs ?

I understand that China’s data on the number of deaths from Covid-19 has been ditched by the UK government as being unreliable, viz, far fewer than possible.

However, it has occurred to me that the low number of deaths could instead be explained by China knowing of a “miracle drug” but not wishing to share it with the RoW.

We already know they are quite happy to ship us defective ventilators, masks and test kits.

Nigel Sedgwick said...

John Brown writes: "Miracle Drugs ?"

How about looking here: under China and 2020. Smoking (age 15+) by males is 45.7% (presumably estimated, down from 47.6% in 2015).

So, if smoking tobacco offers resistance in totality or to a large extent, a lot more Chinese males than first-world males will start with herd immunity, probably tending a long way towards halving the actual rate (Rt) for male-to-male passing on. There might well be also a societal effect from keeping males and female more separated than in first-world countries.

And, if smoking tobacco offers significant suppression of the worse symptoms, a lot more Chinese males than first-world males will not die. Females themselves are known to suffer less severely from COVID-19.

Add to this that China (particularly Wutan at latitude 30.6 degrees North) is sub-tropical, so R0 (and consequently Rt) will be lower and less seasonal than first-world northern hemisphere temperate zones (especially in winter and early spring). This from climatic effects on average transmission of respiratory diseases. The continental rather than maritime climate might also have a beneficial effect on R0/Rt.

So who needs a conspiracy theory? On just needs to acknowledge that different places and different population characteristics are significantly different for COVID-19.

Keep safe and best regards

Dave_G said...

There are no 'miracles' to be had but I don't think anyone suffering from Covid would refuse any form of treatment that gave them a chance for survival - but what do you think a hospital would say if you asked for (demanded?) HCQ as part of it? It's 'your' life after all.

What if it was your loved one? Or child? Personally I'd be beating the shit out of any doctor that refused to give treatment that could save a loved ones life. And probably be applauded for the fact.

What if Boris DID receive HCQ for his treatment? We should be told.

So, no cure (ever) but options available that we are currently being distracted from or (potentially) deliberately denied.

This is the level of trust we get from our Government.

Anonymous said...

Some people say that Donald has a financial stake in HCQ sales.

Dave_G said...

Anon 21:29

Given that HCQ has been on the market since 1955 I find that claim to be particularly suspicious in nature.

Anonymous said...

With 70-ish vaccine candidates in development I reckon 6-8 vaccines ready for approval by September.
Final choice will not come down to effectiveness or safety but to production capability of the vaccine sponsor.
Prophylaxis study is interesting, was wondering when one might get published.