Health & Healthcare

What the Experts Have to Say About COVID-19

Coronavirus COVID-19

Note: This post has not been updated since March and thus some of the information contained here may not reflect the current state of knowledge.  Please refer to the World Health Organization or your local public health agencies for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.

With far too many people ignoring public health advice around social distancing, we’ve come to the unfortunate place that a lot of areas are on lockdown.  However, we need to slow this thing down.

At the World Health Organization press briefing on March 23, the W.H.O. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it had taken 67 days to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, then 11 more days to reach 200,000, then only 4 more days to reach 300,000.  As of March 23, 13:51 GMT-7, the W.H.O. reports 334,981 confirmed cases across 190 countries, with 14,652 deaths.

The Director-General went on to say:

“Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time but they are defensive measures that will not help us to win. To win we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics, testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case and tracing and quarantining every close contact.”

Treatment

At this time the W.H.O.’s clinical management guidelines are inaccessible; likely their server is overloaded.  The U.K.’s NICE guidelines (which are used by the N.H.S.) don’t seem to make specific recommendations about experimental treatments, so instead, we’ll turn to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. to see what they have to say.

The C.D.C. reports that there are 3 clinical trials ongoing for the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir.  There is also an emergency access option available for hospitals not involved in trials to get a supply of the drug.  In the same treatment guidance document, the C.D.C. recommends the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine based on the limited data that is available (I covered this in an earlier post).  Hydroxychloroquine appears to have more potent activity against the novel coronavirus.  Caution is urged if either of these are combined with azithromycin, due to the potential for cardiac side effects.

The C.D.C. goes on to say that trials are underway looking at whether hydroxychloroquine is effective for pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis, i.e. whether it has a preventative effect when taken before someone is exposed to the virus, or whether it can prevent infection after someone’s been exposed.  No data is available yet.

According to clinicaltrials.gov, some of the other drugs being investigated around the world include sildenafil (Viagra), angiotensin II receptor blockers (typically used for blood pressure), the antiviral drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir, and thalidomide (the drug that causes severe birth defects).

Vaccine development

The W.H.O. reports that as of March 21, there are 2 candidate vaccines in the clinical evaluation phase, and 48 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluations.

Ways to get information

The W.H.O has partnered with Facebook and Whatsapp to provide alert messages through Whatsapp.  This can be accessed via the W.HO. website.

The W.H.O has OpenWHO Massive Online Open Courses for COVID-19, including one on hygiene measures to prevent infection and how to implement them.

What’s next

For a lot of people, isolation is hard, without a doubt.  It’s not going to last forever, though.  This is necessary to “flatten the curve” and slow down the spread.  Once it’s more contained and testing is scaled up, the public health folks will be able to start doing the same thing they do with TB or measles outbreaks – isolate the people who have it, trace any contacts they’ve had, and isolate those people too.

In the meantime, make sure you’re getting your information from reliable sources.  And while some politicians may be reliable if they stay on script, the people that actually know what they’re talking about are the public health experts.

There’s more on pubic health in the Science Corner.

I’ve put together a COVID-19 coping toolkit with some resources to help with managing the stress of the current pandemic.

21 thoughts on “What the Experts Have to Say About COVID-19”

  1. We are saddened by the violence language of WHO and governments. We wish we were a peaceful person with a peaceful history. Might as well accept reality—and keep avoiding the news

  2. Thanks for all this info!!

    It is hard, but I’ve been trying to avoid unnecessary errands for purposes of doing the right thing. I need some hardware for the media center I’m fixing up, but it can either wait, or I can reuse the existing hardware. (The original hardware was painted over, and I was lucky to get it taken apart.) It’s just not something I want on my conscience, ya know, that I went out for no good reason, and… you know, spread the virus. So it’s become a self-policing thing?

    Please keep posting new blog posts when there’s more information!!

      1. Not easily, because I need to take one of each nut, bolt, washer, and screw with me to make sure I get the right size at the store. It would be very very difficult to try to match online. 😐

          1. Yeah. And it’s not the end of the world. I’m still painting all the boards and topcoating before it’ll be time for reassembly anyway! 🙂 I found some paint in the basement, so that was another avoided errand! I’m sure it’ll all be fine!!

  3. It won’t last forever that is very true, this too shall pass. But it the meanwhile we can b*tch a little as sometimes it gets difficult. We can support each other and maybe value the contacts we have even more. Thank you for posting the updates as I don’t follow regular media in an attempt to stay the most sane that I can be.

  4. thanks for your very informative blog. I ve hear and believe myself that the numbers are inaccurate because there are not enough testing kits to go around and not everyone who has the virus has been accounted for. So I think the numbers might be much higher. stay safe.

  5. hi there! I am nominating you for the mystery bloggers award. I have posted blog with details if you should wish to accept.

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