19 March 2020

Science to the rescue?

Scientists at the University of Minnesota are now testing two drugs as possible treatments for covid-19 -- hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, and losartan, a blood-pressure medication.

These drugs have been in widespread use in humans for years and are already known to be safe, so the current clinical trials will need to test only for effectiveness against covid-19, not for safety.  This will make testing go much faster.  The two drugs are also fairly inexpensive.

The US trials follow tentative but promising test results in France and China.

Ignore what the politicians and political commentators say about this.  That's just background noise.  If there is to be any chance of mitigating the disaster now looming over the world, it is science, and only science, that will provide it.

Know hope.


Blogger Lady M said...

The lack of understanding of science by a chunk of the human population has gotten into this mess. We all need to accept that evolution exists and is an arms race. As we decimate populations of host species, viruses will evolve to infect the most prevalent species on the planet. We need to be ready with a clear response to this unavoidable fact of evolution - not a hodge podge of "whatever" at the state, local and federal level. Hopefully this will make all governments take pandemic preparation seriously and will put an end to the wishful thinking so often displayed by the Trump administration and its followers.

19 March, 2020 12:26  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

Fingers crossed!

19 March, 2020 12:31  
Blogger Leanna said...

I already take hydroxychloroquine because it helps keep my autoimmune system from killing me. I have Lupus and hydroxychloroquine is a great drug for people like me that have white blood cells attacking their organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. I'm just hoping that because it's showing promise against COVID-19 that the price doesn't shoot through the roof.

19 March, 2020 12:36  
Blogger Nan said...

What? You mean prayers aren't going to help? Sheesh. I've been misled.

19 March, 2020 12:53  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

It’s always been science.
The superstition and stupidity of Americans need to be erased.


19 March, 2020 14:56  
Blogger Mary said...

Very hopeful, if trump doesn’t bog it down, so he and his crime family can make a profit from it.

19 March, 2020 17:51  
Blogger Victor said...

I'm ashamed for you!

You mentioned "prayers," but forgot the "thoughts!!"
How thoughtless of you!!!

The magic spell only works if you link them together!!!!
So, here, repeat after me"
"My thoughts and prayers are with (Fill-in the blank: _________________)."

Now try it yourself, it"ll work!
It's fool-proof*!!!!!.

Just kidding around, Nan! ;-)

*It's a 'fool' who thinks he doesn't need 'proof' - of anything and everything! ;-)

Cold, hard facts are necessary to keep from becoming a thoughtless tRUMPista who prays to The Magic Old Sky Guy.


19 March, 2020 21:57  
Blogger Mike said...

"The only thing that proves science wrong is better science." The better science these days is saying it's not evolution that has been propelling us along. It's mutation. The problem is we have become pretty good at fixing mutations. Are we creating our own dead end?

19 March, 2020 22:00  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Lady M: Viruses have actually been adapting to infect humans for thousands of years -- ever since we started domesticating animals and began spending long periods in association with them. It's a habit we would be wise to make an end to as much as possible -- starting with not eating animals any more. Remember, covid-19 got started at a filthy public market where animals were being held to be sold for eating.

Debra: Hoping for the best.....

Leanna: I think if something proves useful against covid-19 and the government doesn't take tough steps to prevent price-gouging, the politicians will get lynched. And they know it.

Nan: There are already millions of people mumbling to their imaginary friend about the problem, and it doesn't seem to be helping.....

20 March, 2020 02:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: Unfortunately the superstitious element will continue to sneer at science while owing their very lives to it, as has been the case for generations now.

Mary: Well, even if he screws things up here, the research will simply continue in other countries.

Victor: Thanks -- and I'm sure we can all use a reminder of the correct form of ritual incantations.

Mike: Actually, science doesn't "disprove science" -- science disproves earlier conclusions. Science is a method for finding things out, not a set of conclusions or beliefs.

What "propels us along" is natural selection, while mutation generates the variation on which natural selection operates. The effects of this combination of mutation and natural selection are what we call evolution. So I don't think it's meaningful to say "it's not evolution that has been propelling us along. It's mutation" when mutation is one of the components of evolution.

I have never heard that we can "fix mutations", though we can mitigate some of the developmental problems they can cause. In any case, the future development of humanity will be driven by technologies like brain/computer integration. We don't need biological evolution any more.

20 March, 2020 02:36  
Blogger bluzdude said...

I take Losartan now and it is indeed inexpensive. How much ya wanna bet it doesn't stay that way? I'm expecting the price to jump like the whole stock was bought up by a Kentucky redneck.

20 March, 2020 05:23  
Anonymous Ole Phat Stu said...

Trump thinks the COV virus can be beaten by attaching a couple of iron atom/ions
to the viral core, hence COV-Fe-Fe ;-)

20 March, 2020 09:00  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I really do hope they come up with some kind of treatment or vaccine.

20 March, 2020 11:36  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I didn't know about the drugs, but I expected that there would be alot of folks in this field working to find vaccines and meds, plus if any find useful, they will get like an award, medal, or whatever, business, etc. I seen a brief news clip on the tele one night, that they were asking volunteers to try drugs or therapy or whatever. One woman told me, that they were offering up to $5000 to volunteers, think she was interested, because of the money ... but she's like 30 years old too, and takes care of herself. I just got back in, was driving down Lemmon Ave here in North Central Dallas, traffic a little lighter, but still quite a bit. My daughter and her husband asked me and my wife to stay with them for awhile, which is about 5 miles south of where my apartment is, in Bluffview/ North Dallas. She suggested it, because it's a brand new place (opened fall 2019), nice location, more spacious, etc ... she had an extra bedroom, so we said cool, it's just the 4 of us staying here, but I still have my apartment in NW Dallas, just haven't been staying there. I tried to tell some guyz I know to take this serious, because they are contractors (mechanical, HVAC, plumbing) and work out in the field, and business still been good for them ... hope they take it serious, they're not as old as me (except one, who is only about 7 years younger than me), so they probably feel more unlikely to get sick, I guess ... but good for folks to take this serious. Yeah, I haven't followed the political stuff, and besides, I'm just burned out on all this stuff, including the elections ... same old back and forth crap year after year, and the same players.

20 March, 2020 12:54  
Anonymous Professor Taboo said...

I only wish that our world health organizations/institutions, medical-microbiological and epidemiology labs, especially in the U.S., hadn't been deprioritized, defunded and/or slashed so soon after the SARS and MERS epidemics had receded and brought under control in the early 2000's. Just think about how much more we could've been prepared for this COVID-19 had greedy, wealthy entities and persons not made money, money, and more money more important over human life. Or should I say more important over "lower-class" human life?

Here's to our phenomenal medical scientists, doctors, nurses, EMT's, etc, etc, around the world!!! Amazing how many innocent lives they actually DO end up saving without much fan-fare or praise, let alone private or governmental support!

20 March, 2020 13:51  
Blogger RO said...

Thank goodness! Though there is one version of Losartan that was recalled and taken off the market for those who were using it to control blood pressure if I'm remembering correctly. I know it's going to take some time, but it hurts me to hear about people dying from this and also the flu. Hugs, RO

20 March, 2020 16:57  
Blogger Lady M said...

Ha ha - good one Ole Phat Stu!

20 March, 2020 20:04  
Blogger The New York Crank said...

I'm on Losartan. It's for high blood pressure. I don't see how it could possibly attack a particular virus. However, it's made in China and some batches of it were taken off the market last year when it was discovered they contained impurities that cause cancer. So there's that to worry about. Which would you rather die from, the Corona Virus or Cancer? And isn't nice to have a choice?

On the other hand, so far I I'm not showing any flu-like symptoms. Which proves....nothing.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Frank

20 March, 2020 20:51  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Bluzdude: We'll see. I don't think the public would tolerate politicians tolerating price-gouging in a situation like this. The company that makes hydroxychloroquine has promised to donate millions of doses for free if it proves effective against covid-19.

Stu: So Trump was prophetic after all!

Mary: As do we all. Discovering that an existing drug can treat it would mean the treatment would be available in weeks, whereas a vaccine will take at least a year.

Ranch: Whoever does discover a treatment will certainly win renown -- among the knowledgeable, that is. The goobers will think it was all their praying to Gawd that brought it about.

Professor: That was mostly Trump's fault. Obama put a federal pandemic response system in place. Trump got rid of it.

RO: They're pretty good at taking stuff off the market if it turns out to be unsafe. But that's how we can be pretty sure that what's currently out there and in common use is safe.

Lady M: Heh.

Crank: It's not unusual for drugs to have multiple effects. In the case of losartan, there's some evidence that it disrupts the process by which the virus binds to cells and attacks them.

Anything made in China is suspect due to their numerous cases of sloppy quality control, but there are a lot of other places that produce pharmaceuticals in quantity. In any case, if the batches with those impurities were taken off the market, they're no longer a concern.

21 March, 2020 07:30  
Blogger The New York Crank said...

Infidel: I don't think we should get into a protracted argument about this, but let's say you're right that Losartan does disrupt the process by which the Corona Virus binds to and attacks cells. And that therefore it could stop the pandemic in its tracks.

Please remember that Losartan is a very effective and powerful blood pressure (hypertension) control. That's why I've been taking it for about 20 years, and why my cranky brother (who also takes it) and I have outlived all the other males in our father's line by ten years or more. My father, his brother, my grandfather, two cousins, on and on, all died of strokes.

Now start feeding feeding Losartan to people who don't have high blood pressure. The result is likely to be HyPOtension — a drop in blood pressure. This can lead to dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration, shock, and heart and brain damage. If I may dare a layman's analogy, it's like bleeding to death, while all the blood is still inside your veins and arteries. (The full list of horrors here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20355465

Now there may be some way to avoid all this. Maybe the normal dose can be lowered and still be sufficient to kill Corona but insufficient to significantly lower blood pressure. Maybe people with normal blood pressure and a Corona infection will need to take Losartan with a grain of salt (literally) or some other chemical that raises blood pressure even as the medication lowers it.

Do you suppose that figuring this out on a clinical basis is likely to take long enough that by the time doctors can begin prescribing Losartan for the infection, we'll have a vaccine that will make this entire argument superfluous?

I don't know the answers. I'm only asking. But forgive me if I remain a bit of a skeptic.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

21 March, 2020 13:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Crank: Do you really think the researchers conducting the trials aren't fully aware of that issue? Yet they still judged losartan hopeful enough to be worth testing.

Maybe the blood-pressuring-lowering effect will make it too dangerous to use against covid-19, or maybe it won't work against covid-19 at all. The point is, the only way to find out is by doing actual testing (and yes, considering a vaccine will apparently take 12 to 18 months to make available, testing existing drugs is indeed likely to be substantially faster). Nobody ever solved a problem by rejecting every possible solution in advance because it was potentially flawed, without even doing any research to find out whether it could in fact be made workable. The only way to know whether or not losartan can be used for covid-19 at an acceptable level of risk is by doing the clinical trials and finding out.

21 March, 2020 17:52  

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