We shall overcomeInitial comparison of sequences of coronavirus genome isolated from patients in different regions suggest that the rate of mutation appears to be slower than could be expected. It might be too early to tell from comparison of Chinese and Italian patients that at most a few months apart. There are only 4 to 10 mutations between coronavirus from outbreak in Wuhan and US patients.
According to Peter Thielen, a molecular geneticist at Johns Hopkins University, "That’s a relatively small number of mutations for having passed through a large number of people," Thielen said. "At this point, the mutation rate of the virus would suggest that the vaccine developed for SARS-CoV-2 would be a single vaccine, rather than a new vaccine every year, like the flu vaccine. I would expect a vaccine for coronavirus would have a similar profile to those vaccines. It’s great news".
Great news indeed.
Now, all that is required is a unified response by authorities. That might be the hardest challenge. Several US governors rejected Trump’s virus timeline as using “imaginary clock”. Indeed, strategies vary dramatically between keep the lockdown longer, or allowing the public to return to mingling as usual. The key is achieving herd immunity, before economies suffocate or virus fragments into multiple strains. UN aid chief described herd immunity succinctly: ‘No one is safe until everyone is safe’.
As implied in the previous post, the risks of staying in lock-down more than 2-3 months might outweigh the benefits.
Fortunately, there are many ways of helping people to survive coronavirus infection, from basic anti-viral like Tamiflu, chloroquine (also used against malaria), anti-mucus producing medication (Bromhexine), which is similar to Mucinex, to nitric oxide gas. One of the simplest methods is to raise the temperature in the lungs. This can be done by wrapping the upper body or using hot steam inhalation.
One of the most reliable, if old-school methods, is transfusion of immunoglobulins (IgGs) from recovered into acute patients. This is a polyclonal mixture of IgGs is similar to reagents that are obtained from rabbits, which used to be a popular source of reagents for detection, before wide-spread adoption of monoclonal antibody technology. Although relatively low-tech, this method is very effective at giving severely ill patients a great chance for recovery. This is being done as a preventive measure for healthy healthcare workers in NYC.
In short, there is a path to recovery from Coronavirus. It’s not going to be painless, and there are difficult decisions ahead. The worst option could be a piece-meal and improper timing of return to business. Can we as a society select one of two opposing solutions and execute with cohesion despite the pain?
The individuals, families, and small businesses are sacrificing a lot in this lockdown. They deserve a coordinated policy from US federal and local governments.