A few quick updates, mostly video:
(1) A somewhat UK-centric world update from Dr. John Campbell
(2) The Economist on why the stock market is doing pretty well despite the corona crisis. Jeb Kinnison mentioned the economic law that whenever new money is issued, those sitting closest to the source of new money enjoy an economic advantage as they are able to spend it before everybody becomes aware of its loss of value — needless to say, not mentioned here.
(3) Swedish epidemiology chief Anders Tegnell says, “judge me in a year”.
(4) Jeff Duntemann alerted me to an e-book by Dr. Zev Zelenko and others. A community doctor in the Satmar Chasidic community, he started applying a treatment regime of hydroxychloroquine, zinc supplements, and the antibiotic azithromycin quite early (around the same time as Dr. Didier Raoult, director of the Marseille hospital for infectious diseases, applied his regime).
HOCQ came out of the drug repurposing effort — the whole idea being that while developing a new drug and getting FDA approval takes time, this can be shortcut if an old drug can do new tricks. (In fact, some of the best-known drugs came about exactly like this: Ritalin, Viagra, Antabus,…) There are two factors clouding the issue here:
(a) unlike the pretty clear, transparent mechanisms by which drugs like remdesivir, dexamethasone, and beta-interferon work, the mechanism for HOCQ is murkier even if we have a few conjectures. (The cardiac risk being spoken of is for azithromycin, not for hydroxychloroquine itself which at lower doses is routinely used in lupus patients as an immunomodulator.)
(b) TDS (Trump derangement syndrome): to me, the concept of wanting a drug to fail simply because a politician one despises endorsed it reminds me of middle school except that people’s lives are at stake. It is the sort of behavior where the Brahmandarin “smart set” unintentionally reveals more about itself than about pharmacology.
At this stage, I’m more bullish on beta-interferon and dexamethasone, but I’ll take whatever works, be it one drug or a “cocktail” regime. If we can make it so that we can reliably arrest the progression of the disease from upper respiratory tract to dangerous pneumonia with ARDS, then we can treat COVID19 like a nuisance rather than a dangerous epidemic.
(5) Via Instapundit: This chart of US State’s fatalities per capita (full version here) is perhaps most notable for which states do not show up in the top bracket:
(6) Meanwhile in Israel, Prof. Gabi Barabash declined the offered position of “Coronavirus czar” — instead Dr. Roni Gamzu (Barabash’s successor as the director of Ichilov Hospital, and like him a former director-general of the Health Ministry) will take the position.