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Coronavirus Basics Too Many People Never Learned

11 29 51

As a nation and a society, we found ourselves not fully prepared for the sudden global pandemic of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. One of many ways that our society is struggling to keep up is for the public to understand basic concepts about medication and how to battle this new virus.

We heard about the couple in Arizona who drank a fish tank cleaner designed to kill parasites in fish aquariums. This was somehow blamed on President Donald Trump — even though the wife is alleged to be a Democrat donor, not a Trump fan.

There are some basic concepts that professionals take for granted that everyone knows. Apparently, some things should be better explained. Your author reviewed these issues with doctors, including a preeminent physician among the top ten finalists for the Nobel in medicine.

First, no one should take medication without being screened by his physician and advised to take it. Too much criticism about COVID-19 is based on the assumption that everyone might run out and start popping hydroxychloroquine pills like candy.

President Donald Trump recently announced that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine together with zinc supplements for almost two weeks now. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, always classy, then called Trump "morbidly obese" as a risk factor and gave her medical advice that the medication would be dangerous for Trump.

But medications that are not over the counter require a doctor's prescription. A physician evaluates a patient and screens for risk factors, allergies to medications, and other "contraindications." In Trump's case, the White House physician, Sean Connolly — not Pelosi — would decide if Trump's weight argues against the medication or whether hydroxychloroquine makes sense in decreasing the president's chance of coronavirus infection.

For every drug or therapy, the medical community identifies "indications" — signs that it may benefit a patient. But there are also "contraindications." Those are times when a pill or shot should be avoided because of likely adverse side-effects in spite of possible benefits. In pharmacology, this is the "benefit/risk ratio." These are individualized decisions. It is not a "do it yourself" project.

Second, we should not be looking for only one solution. Doctors need to select the best medication for each individual, often trying one and then trying another. The antiviral remdesivir looks the most promising at the moment. We would celebrate that great news if remdesivir is unequivocally proven. But we should hope to have several treatments that allow physicians to select the best answer for each individual patient, at different stages of the disease, different symptoms, and different severity. We should not be looking to shut down any lines of research.

Remdesivir is an antiviral that targets specifically an enzyme in the viral genome (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; RdRp). Directly targeting the virus would seem to be the most rational approach, rather than treating the subsequent inflammatory responses caused by the virus. Also, remdesivir has fewer risks than hydroxychloroquine for severe side-effects.

Hydroxylchloroquine is an anti-rheumatoid drug, often used when combined with the antibacterial azithromycin (AZT, or Z-pack). It can fight inflammation and/or help transport zinc into cells, which reduces viral reproduction.

Other medications being worked on are targeting completely different phases of COVID-19, such as trying to treat the "cytokine storm," which happens in many of the most severe infections. COVID-19 often produces only moderate flu-like symptoms, but sometimes........

© American Thinker