In my last Corona virus update I presented optimistic projections about the pandemic from the CDC and why I feared they may be wrong yet again because I feared a worsening of the current pandemic instead of an improvement. I truly hope I am missing something and would be pleased to to be wrong.
In this post I would like to present some information from recent viral research and corona virus case studies along with treatment options beside what Trump’s Warp Speed program is offering.
I was recently doing my morning scan of covid websites and stumbled upon this graph which really caught my eye: notice that flat green line at the very bottom. That represents the death rate in Chiapas state compared to the death rates in all the other states.
This second image happens to be a graph of Mexico’s Covid deaths, state by state. It comes from Mexico’s Public health website which appears excellent but which limits inquiry from unregistered people like me.
The second image as I stated is the death rate per 100,000 before and after July 2020 after Chiapas sent out Ivermectin kits to their population . I was not able to ascertain whether this was to be a prophylactic or a treatment trial but the effect is jaw dropping, over a 90% decrease in deaths. Correlation doesn’t always imply causation but what else could explain such a decline? I was able to find out the dose regimen which I present: It was a 5 day course of Ivermectin(a antihelminthic) given at 12 mg/day if you are less than 80 kg and 18 mg/day if over 80 kg(176 lbs). It appears Hydroxychloroquine was also given(?) as 400 mg BID for one day and then 200 mg BID for the next 4 days. That dosing regimen is also being trialed somewhere in Mexico currently I believe but I have no access to the results at the moment. The CDC has debunked these drugs early on but their recommendation was based upon a poorly structured trial with high does in animals and in hospitalized patients with late stage Covid. This regimen is also being used in India at the moment but I have not investigated how that is working out yet. Unfortunately there is variability in how the tests were performed and until large double blind studies in a variety of patients are performed, the jury will remain out. The best anecdotal reports I have seen is when Ivermectin with or without zinc and with or without doxycycline and hydrochloroquine is given very early in the infection, it seemed patient outcomes were improved. What about antiviral drugs, like the “miracle” drug remdesivir?
Early on Remdesivir was purchased by the US government as a potentially landmark antiviral drug . It was administered to trump as you may recall. We purchased the world supply of 500,000 doses at a cost of $ 2300/ea and the delivered cost to the patient was to be $3200 to $4100 for a 5 day course. This from NPR last year. Remember that? The US government had already underwritten over $70 million given to Giliad in development costs and allowed Giliad to secure a patent to prevent open source use. As you may know, Remdesivir was a colossal and expensive DUD. The trials were either poorly structured or worse. It seems every month or two there is a new miracle antiviral being touted. The latest is Molnupiravir from a Georgia company which allegedly kills the coronavirus at 99% when trialed with ferrets and now is in human trials according to an Atlanta TV station. I personally hope for such an effective immediate treatment for Coronavirus as the most effective way to stop the Covid epidemic in its tracks but I’m not holding my breath.I do hope the ferrets are still doing OK. I should mention a study involving mouthwashes containing cetylpyridinium chloride having strong antiviral properties in an inviro study. It was assumed it would be effective against covid-19 in their conclusions. It is present in a variety of mouthwashes, toothpastes and nasal sprays such as those made by Colgate, Crest and Sensodine among others. This seems to me to be a no brainer if you regularly use mouthwashes. Keep taking your Vit D.
I bring these treatment options up because of my skepticism about long term vaccine efficacy which has not been established because establishing such efficacy will require long term rigorous phase three clinical trials which were not done by Trump’s Warp Speed program. Here are some of my concerns and I will try to use solid research already done to justify my concerns.
There is a long established phenomenon of “Antibody escape” which occurs when the virus “escapes” the antibody . There was some good work done recently at the U of Washington at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in which they used convalescent plasma rich in antibodies which targeted particular regions of the Sars Coronavirus spike proteins. They tested all possible mutations in the spike proteins which could offer escape pathways to escape mutants. The surprise to me was that these escape pathways differed from person to person. Here is a statement from the paper:
The findings suggest that peoples’ responses to a vaccine that targets the spike protein are unlikely to be uniform, say the researchers. I guess that means vaccine efficacy may also be unlikely to be uniform.
I should note that this finding while worrisome is just released and not yet peer reviewed but there have been some SARS virus studies similarly done challenging viruses over a period of 5 months in which later versions of the virus became resistant to convalescent serum challenges. I Do not recall which immune proteins were being tested and there are quite a few. There is a case study out of Brazil again just released on 5 Jan describing a patient infected by the SARS corona virus who recovered only to be reinfected 5 months later by a variant and she became much more deathly sick. It is studies and reports like this with corona virus immune responses that make this observer concerned about long term efficacy of vaccines or reinfection after their initial episode. It is common knowledge that immunity from a corona cold virus doesn’t prevent getting another cold in the same cold/URI season.
Finally to close out this post I would like to state my preference for a particular vaccine. I base my decision on several factors. The vaccine is finishing up phase three trials and is the J&J vaccine produced and developed in Belgium and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. It uses a tried and proven technology well researched and tested against the Ebola virus. Their proprietary technology is called ADVAC and instead of using a grafted RNA spike protein subunit like Pfizer and Moderna, it uses a common noninfective adenovirus in which no RNA is used. Instead it is DNA and it resides within the nucleus of the inactivated virus. After the corona virus invades the adenovirus cell a process is initiated in which mRNA is elaborated to make the spike proteins that are released and which stimulate an immune response with a variety of immune cells. Among them are Helper and killer T cells, and Beta cells. I assume a variety of neutralizing antibodies are also elaborated. The results using participants’ worldwide look promising so far and if I was betting on a horse race, J&J’s Ad26.Cov2.S vaccine would be my bet. It is a stable rugged vaccine and can be stored in any refrigerator. Best of all it is a one shot. Unlike Pfizer the J&J trials have included testing to include the elderly with and without a variety of comorbidities. Recall that Pfizer and Moderna stopped their trials at age 55 and now most vaccination programs are targeting the elderly as next in line after front line doctors and nurses. In other words they are vaccinating this group absent any phase three trials ever being done!!! And now there are reports out of Norway and elsewhere tying more than a dozen deaths of elderly over the age of 80 dying after receiving their Pfizer poke. These reports need immediate investigation and not by Pfizer to establish the level of risk/benefit of mRNA vaccines to the elderly. Good thing for Pfizer stockholders that their lawyers negotiated indemnity against lawsuits. I have also been hearing anecdotal reports that the second Pfizer shot has more unpleasant side effects. My prediction is that if Ad26.Cov2.S is as effective as its competitors and is priced properly it will out compete the fragile and less rigorously tested vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. I should also mention again that the Oxford Zeneca uses similar technology with a Chimp adenovirus. Stay well out there and use a real N95 or N99 mask like my SPERIAN valve mask. These variants from the UK and S Africa and Brazil are out to rumble and mean business!