Archive for November 14, 2020

Response to COVID-19 Has Exposed Chronic Dysfunction in the West

November 14, 2020 23 comments

While I would love to finish a bunch of my drafts about topics ranging from how the computer revolution of past 20 years has been a failure to why the 1990s was the last good decade for people living in west, we seem to keep coming back to topics such as COVID-19 and Trump. So consider this post as another one in an already long list about the incredibly dysfunctional response by western countries to the COVID-19 pandemic. But how is this one different from the ones I posted over past few months? Well.. because it seems that systemic dysfunction exhibited by western countries has not improved, and in some cases, gotten worse.

1] Have you noticed that even after 8 months, western countries have still not shown the willingness or wherewithal to treat COVID-19 infections in high-risk patients with anti-viral and anti-inflammatory drugs? Let me explain a bit about what I am talking about. See.. based on results of many small and large clinical trials around the world, we know that treatment of COVID-19 patients at higher risk of hospitalization with certain drugs does reduces the risk of hospitalization, ICU usage and death. Furthermore, many of them such as Indomethacin, Doxycycline, Ambroxol or Bromhexine, low-dose Colchicine, Ivermectin are both readily available and fairly safe, especially for short-term use.

Yet no government in the West has even bothered to honestly find out if all the positive results seen in other parts of the world are reproducible. It is noteworthy than many of these reports come from more than one country and were often published at round the same time. There is definitely something going on with these compounds. Of course, these drugs would be most effective in high-risk patients who receive them within the first 3-4 days of symptomatic illness. But almost no large clinical trial in the West is even trying to assess their efficacy in reducing hospitalizations, ICU usage and death. It is as if the establishment in West has no interest in strategies which don’t involve them riding on their favorite hobby-horses.

2] Related to this shortcoming, is the inability or unwillingness to deploy orally available direct anti-viral drugs to treat COVID-19 in high-risk patients as early as possible. As mentioned in at least one previous post, a Remdesivir analog known as GS-441524 has the same degree of efficacy against Coronaviruses as it well-known chemical cousin in addition to being orally available and noticeably less toxic. So why isn’t nobody in West trying to find out if giving this drug (already tested in animals) early in course of disease reduces the risk of hospitalization etc in older patients? What about EIDD-2801, another even more potent and orally available anti-viral compound which has passed toxicity and efficacy tests in animals?

Do you see a trend? It is as if there is no systemic and coordinated effort in the West to treat COVID-19 before people end up in the hospital. The same is true for all those monoclonal antibody cocktails which would be far more useful if they were given to high-risk patients before they get sick enough to be hospitalized. I mean.. look at Trump.. he got the antibody cocktail and anti-viral drug at right time and hence recovered much faster than otherwise. Isn’t it interesting to note that the most aggressive use of medicines to stop high-risk patients from getting worse is occurring in countries such as India, Russia, Malaysia etc rather than the supposedly “advanced” West? What is going on?

3] And it gets worse. Have you noticed that western governments are still pretending that COVID-19 can be controlled or eliminated by a hastily thrown together bunch of measures such as “hard lockdowns”, ineffectual talismans such cloth masks, social distancing and then pretending that the continued rise in cases in spite of implementing these measures is due to poor “compliance” rather than they being close to useless. Have you also noticed that most western governments are pretending that COVID-19 infections in children and adolescents have a higher mortality than the common cold. Also, if you are interested in preventing high-risk teachers from getting infected, why not keep teachers over 50 or 60 at home and let the others go about their normal routine.

They are still pretending that the mortality rates for under-50s is more than 1 in a few thousand. Even the rates for under-60 crowd remain at somewhere between 1 in 500 to 1 in a thousand. Shouldn’t we be therefore devoting resources (such as N95 masks etc) to those at high risk of adverse outcomes such as those above 70 or 80 and in assisted living situations rather than fight the losing battle to stop COVID-19 infections in low-risk people. Hasn’t it become obvious by now, after 8 months, that eliminating COVID-19 from the population by such measures is a fool’s errand. Who are trying to impress with this seemingly unending list of failures?

4] But the crowning glory of their ineffectualness has been their profound inability to come up with a realistic plan to emerge from this self-inflicted crisis. Do you see any government in the West putting forth a realistic plan for dealing from the situation. And no.. ideas centered around daily ‘cheap’ tests for everybody and vaccinating everybody are not realistic as anybody who knows even a bit about error rates in testing and logistics of producing and distributing vaccines knows. Too make matters.. more interesting.. most vaccines being developed in the West are of types which have not been previously used in humans. Yes.. RNA-based vaccines such as those being developed by Pfizer and Moderna have not been previously used in human beings. Nor have those which use adenoviral vectors such as the ones from Astra-Zeneca, CanSino or the Sputnik V Russian vaccine. To put it another way, we are in totally uncharted waters with these vaccines.

I cannot help pointing out that inactivated virus vaccines against COVID-19 are perfectly feasible. Indeed, such vaccines have been used against Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A, Rabies, Influenza vaccines etc for many decades. Yet for some odd reasons, there are only a few groups developing inactivated virus vaccines for COVID-19. What makes this even more odd is that such vaccines have been successfully tested and used for multiple types of Coronaviruses affecting animals. So why aren’t we using tried and tested methods for vaccine development, which are almost certain to work, in favor of sexy but unproven methods of achieving the same results. And yes.. I am aware that inactivated virus vaccines require boosters, but so do the others being currently tested for COVID-19. Also, what about vaccines based around protein subunits, such as the ‘spike’ protein, another well-known way of developing them.

Since we are already past a thousand words, I am not going to go into the hilarious stupidity and callousness displayed by western governments when it comes to issues such as helping save small businesses, jobs in the most affected sectors, running schools and universities into the ground and much more. Might write a followup part based on responses.

What do you think? Comments?