As the Wuhan coronavirus relentlessly engulfs the world, scientists are relentlessly looking for a way to treat the infection. A vaccine is more than a year away, but an antiviral drug called remdesivir is being evaluated in clinical trials by Gilead Science, the world's premier antiviral drug company. Keep your fingers crossed.
I'm returning to my surgical roots to talk about what’s on our minds: uncertainty, disease, and death. Here are some lessons from 30 years of talking to patients and families about situations that are now very real for us all.
We've been quite busy answering questions about coronavirus, UV light, and hand sanitizer.
For epidemiologists, the most important unanswered question about the Wuhan coronavirus, or COVID-19, is the case-fatality rate. But for the general public, the question is much more personal: "Might I – or anyone I love – get sick and die?"
As the coronavirus continues to terrorize the world, people are pinning their hopes on companies that are doing vaccine and drug research to -- maybe -- get us out of this mess. Yet, many of the companies doing the work, especially Gilead Science, are "the bad guys." Except when we need them. Gilead's drug, remdesivir, is now in clinical trials in China so they're OK for now. Hypocrisy at its finest.
Historically, microbiologists named new diseases after locations, animals or people. To this day, flu strains are named after the city in which they were first isolated. Obviously, that's because microbiologists are racist. Right?
At first glance, rheumatoid arthritis and coronavirus have little in common. But an underlying pathological mechanism that involves an over-reactive immune response may allow a drug developed to treat arthritis to save the lives of coronavirus victims.
To ACSH advisor Dr. David Shlaes, the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus in a nursing facility is scary but not surprising. He's appalled by the poor care of the elderly in our long-term care facilities, most of which are for-profit organizations.
The tenure of the World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been marred by incompetence and deference to dictators. The coronavirus pandemic is far too serious to allow Dr. Ghebreyesus to continue in his post. The WHO should be led by someone else.
A lot remains unknown about how many people are infected with coronavirus. One of the few certainties is that far more people are infected than official numbers indicate. A rough calculation suggests anywhere from 150,000 to 3 million global infections.
When COVID-19, aka the Wuhan coronavirus, first emerged, it seemed most likely that the virus would fizzle out. But as the disease continues to spread, that outcome now appears nearly impossible.