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Covid-19 Tests Are Coming, and So May Be a Treatment, And Other Glimmers of Hope

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 19, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 19, 2020 |


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Before we begin again here, a reminder: There are possible treatments being tested, there are new tests coming, and there is modeling that provides better outlooks than the Imperial College Study, but none of it matters if we don’t take appropriate actions now. We’re trying to find ways to reduce the amount of time that much of this country is under lockdown, not look for excuses to abandon lockdown now.

With that said, the University of Minnesota began a 1,500 person trial this week to find out whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of COVID-19. There have been very promising results, so far. In France, for instance, among those who took the pill, only 25 percent still had Covid-19 after 6 days compared to 90 percent in the placebo group.

Meanwhile, Forbes has the test results for their clinical trial here:

At day three, the study reported, 50 percent of the treated group turned from positive to negative for the COVID-19 virus. By day six, 70 percent tested negative.

As intriguing, of the 20 test patients, six who were treated with both Plaquenil and the antibiotic azithromycin did even better, the team reported. Five of the six, or 83 percent, tested negative at day three. All six, 100 percent, tested negative at day six.

Results will be known in weeks, not months, and you can bet your ass that rich people are already using it, even though the huge upside here is that the medication is dirt cheap, or as one scientist put it, “laughably” inexpensive.

Again, a treatment is great! It will help reduce the amount of beds needed in the ICU, but we have to stay inside now so that there’s an opportunity for that to work on a mass scale in weeks.

Elsewhere, the production of tests is ramping up big-time, and nothing will go hand-in-hand with a treatment better than tests. The FDA just approved one from Abbott Laboratories, who sent 150,000 tests and expected to be able to produce 1 million a week by the end of the month. 20/20 BioResponse will apparently begin taking orders for a test that produces results in 15 minutes based on a drop of blood. Another 15-minute test is on the verge of approval in Australia.

Testing is going to be the most important factor because if we can test on a massive scale, these lockdown measures will not be as necessary.

Elsewhere, in China, there were zero new local cases yesterday. Zero. (There were 34 new from outside of the country). If China can keep it up for 13 more days, the pandemic there is over.

Finally, there is reason to be hopeful that China can end its pandemic. NECSI, a small think tank based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also believes that the Imperial College model does not take into account how much easier it will be to detect and isolate after the lockdown (as long as we have tests).

They make structural mistakes in analyzing outbreak response. They ignore standard Contact Tracing [2] allowing isolation of infected prior to symptoms. They also ignore door-to-door monitoring to identify cases with symptoms [3]. Their conclusions that there will be resurgent outbreaks are wrong. After a few weeks of lockdown almost all infectious people are identified and their contacts are isolated prior to symptoms and cannot infect others [4]. The outbreak can be stopped completely with no resurgence as in China, where new cases were down to one yesterday, after excluding imported international travelers that are quarantined.

I’ve been more or less on lockdown since last Saturday. Five days have felt like forever, but it’s remarkable how much scientists (and dirty capitalists and their private labs) have accomplished in that time. I expect the lock-down will last a month, but I am very hopeful that, by the end of the month, scientists will have this thing under control. The cavalry is coming, and they wear scrubs and lab coats.




Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.



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