Arnold Ahlert / April 6, 2020

Are Protocols More Important Than Hope?

Many arguably unnecessary things stand in the way of potential COVID-19 treatments.

A number of new stories last week addressed three topics related to coronavirus: A combination of drugs that would mitigate the effects, some possible vaccines, and one possible cure. And while these developments offer hope to millions of Americans trapped in their homes, the caveat attached to all of them is the daunting reality that assuring their complete safety requires months of clinical testing.

First the vaccines. “Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe that they’ve found a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus,” the New York Post reports.

The vaccine produced by these scientists was tested on mice and produced enough antibodies to successfully counteract the virus. It would be delivered on a small, fingertip-sized patch and follows the approach of many flu vaccines. They were able to come up with it relatively quickly because they had already done research on SARS and MERS, which are similar to coronavirus. Moreover, it is “highly scalable” for widespread use.

Nonetheless, bureaucratic reality intrudes. “The study’s authors are now applying for an investigational new drug approval from the US Food and Drug Administration,” the Post adds. “They hope to start human clinical trials within the next few months.”

Another potential vaccine has been discovered in the United Kingdom. “The maker of Benson & Hedges and Lucky Strike cigarettes claims it has developed a coronavirus vaccine made from tobacco plants,” the Daily Mail reports. “British American Tobacco (BAT) said it can manufacture up to three million doses a week starting in June if it gets support from the UK Government.”

Like its American counterpart, it has also shown success in tests on animals. Moreover, BAT would sell its test to the government at cost, even as the company announced it had pivoted its nearly $70 billion in resources to fight the virus. And a June start for the vaccine’s production would be nothing short of miraculous.

Unfortunately, miracles may be in short supply. The company is imploring the government to fast-track the vaccine’s development, partner with government agencies, and bring it to clinical studies beginning this month. Otherwise, human trials could take most of the year and make a June release date impossible.

Compounding the problem? “Tobacco firms are currently barred from doing deals with governments under World Health Organisation rules, but BAT said it planned to contact the WHO,” the Mail explains.

That would be a thoroughly corrupt WHO whose widely exposed deference to Chinese communists has reduced its credibility to less than zero. If there’s an ounce of sanity left in the world, no government should allow any potential game changers to be blocked or delayed by this contemptible agency.

Other potential vaccines are also in development, but nothing that would be available before the end of the year at the earliest.

Second, mitigation. Despite the avalanche of skepticism and disdain evinced by our mainstream media — whose Trump Derangement Syndrome is apparently boundless — hydroxychloroquine has shown genuine promise with regard to lessening the effects of the virus. In fact, Dr. Stephen Smith, founder of the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health, has labeled the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin a “game changer” in the fight against the virus.

Smith treated 72 patients, including those who were prediabetic, diabetic, and obese. Nonetheless, the results were highly encouraging. “We haven’t had anyone under 70 who didn’t have a very high BMI, or was pre or diabetic, get seriously ill,” he stated. “This is amazing stuff.”

How amazing? “No person who has received five days or more or the [drug] combination has been intubated,” he added. “The chance of that occurring by chance … are .000-something. It’s ridiculously low no matter how you look at it.”

Yet once again, politics intruded. Two Democrat governors, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and Nevada’s Steve Sisolak, initially restricted the use of hydroxychloroquine in their respective states. They have since backed down. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order limiting prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to virus-affected patients in state-approved clinical trials, and for FDA-approved uses as an antimalarial or autoimmune treatment.

Yet in fairness to the governor, this appears to be an effort to prevent hoarding and supply depletion abetted by some doctors who were self-prescribing drugs for themselves, families, friends, and patients who remained in good health. The drug is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and people with those conditions might have trouble filling their prescriptions.

Nonetheless, a survey released last Friday confirmed the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine: More than one-third of 6,227 physicians in 30 countries rated hydroxychloroquine as the “most effective therapy” from a list of 15 options used to fight coronavirus.

And finally, a potential cure. Dr. Jacob Glanville, who was featured in the Netflix documentary “Pandemic,” announced that he and his team have discovered a cure that works by “blocking the novel coronavirus from infecting human cells.”

“I’m happy to report that my team has successfully taken five antibodies that back in 2002 were determined to bind and neutralize, block and stop the SARS virus,” Glanville later added.

Great news — except for the timeline. The antibodies will first be sent to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where they will be used directly against the virus to see if they work as intended. Human trials on 200 to 600 people will come “in the summer, probably in July,” Glanville said.

With regard to all of the above, the elephant in the room is obvious. Whether it is about inefficient bureaucrats; risk-averse politicians who inevitably err to the side of self-preservation; a protocol-obsessed medical community; fear-amplifying media outlets that roundly condemn anyone who strays from their twisted priorities; or trial lawyers who might exploit a single failure in a sea of successes, Americans must face the reality that, barring a paradigm shift, the timeline necessary to fight the virus effectively will apparently be excruciatingly long.

Will that reality hold? Millions of Americans are de facto prisoners in their homes, and in the midst of their fear, despair, and anger the inevitable question will arise: What have we got to lose if we fast-track every possible treatment for this virus? What if we buck the bureaucracy, traditional scientific methods, and timid politicians? What if we tell the trial bar there will be no litigating unforeseen negative outcomes for certain individuals? What if we simply ignore a wholly corrupt media still looking to score political points amidst a national tragedy?

Most important, what if we set a date certain for the compilation of all data on which we base such choices, and simply move forward to the best of our ability — with the understanding that desperate times call for desperate measures?

Controversial? Compared to what? Economic and societal suicide? How many deaths will that engender? And what makes those deaths less worthy of consideration than the ones precipitated by the virus?

Time is of the essence, and fear must give way to hope. American exceptionalism was engendered by risk-taking.

It is time to reclaim our heritage.

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