A new experimental drug has been demonstrated to shorten the recovery time for COVID-19, raising hopes that a viable treatment option has arrived in The United States. Adding to optimism: The United States and China are “neck and neck” in the race for a vaccine.
Remdesvir: Not a Magic Bullet, but Proven to Help
Remdesvir, a drug developed a few years ago to treat Ebola, has emerged as the most promising known treatment for Coronavirus. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Control has concluded a study of roughly 1,000 patients to test the drug, and the early results are cause for cautious celebration.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIAID and the face of the government’s coronavirus response, has been reluctant to endorse treatments in the past. However, he was unusually direct in his optimism regarding the trial.
“The data shows remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.”
He went on to say that we now know “a drug can block this virus”, and that the we’re “opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating” COVID-19 patients.
The drug works by limited the ability of the virus’ genetic code (RNA) to replicate.
While the results are significant and likely indicate the drug’s efficacy for treating COVID-19, they’re not going to make the crisis go away. In the study, the drug was shown to reduce the duration of symptoms from 15 to 11 days. It also lowered the mortality rate from 11% to 8%. Ultimately, it will be a useful tool, but far from a cure. Luckily, a vaccine is not far away.
Vaccine: China and the US “Neck and Neck”
— WBNG 12 News (@WBNG12News) June 23, 2020
As reported by Fox News contributor Dr. Marty Makary, the US is in a close race with China to launch the first approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Makary, a health policy and management professor at Johns Hopkins University, told Fox,
“There are 70 vaccines in different stages of development… There are seven that are being given in patients right now. We’re sort of neck-and-neck with China — we've got three, they've got three.”
Makary went on to say that “They [China] are actually in further stages [of development]. Their drugs are in phase two or three, and it's a real race …The country that gets there first will have a significant advantage because they will control the supply for the rest of the world and the risk is if we aren't there first, we could get locked out.”
The professor added that it would likely take about a year for the vaccines to be available to the public.
Who Gets There First
The consequences of getting there first are important to consider. If China is first to develop and market the vaccine, the United States will essentially be at their mercy until we develop our own. China will be able to pick and choose which countries it ships the vaccine to, and in what quantities. It could use it as leverage to gain diplomatic concessions, or charge unseemly prices to save lives. The country would also be able to open up its economy almost immediately, while the US languishes in social distance purgatory a few weeks or months longer.
As is the case with most Chinese imports, there is also the risk of a low quality product. As seen during this pandemic, China has a reputation of rushing to produce and worrying about quality later. It would be tempting for us to buy the country’s vaccine, but a poorly developed one could do more harm than good.
For these reasons, the race in on. To avoid handing China control over American welfare, it is imperative that we develop a safe vaccine first.
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