Wednesday, July 15, 2020

HCQ Helps Contain COVID-19 Cases: Impressive results from India

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) — the controversial COVID-19 treatment touted by President Donald Trump — might be gaining new traction in the fight against the Wuhan coronavirus.

The latest positive results come from Vadodara, India, where city officials have conducted a major study involving more than 300,000 people, including “health workers and other frontline staff.”

The Indian Express reports:

The administration has analysed a sample of over 1 lakh [lakh = 100,000] residents, who were mostly close contacts of positive persons and the effect of HCQ in containing the transmission of the virus. According to the analysis, of the 48,873 close contacts of positive patients who took one dose of HCQ, 102 turned Covid-19 positive and 12 succumbed to the infection whereas 48 of the 17,776 close contacts of positive patients who took two doses of HCQ turned positive and only one died. The study also states that of the 33,563 close contacts of patients who took three HCQ doses, 43 tested positive and one died.

Local health official Dr. Devesh Patel told the paper, “It has shown positive results. We have the numbers and not one person has complained of complications. The only side effect reported is mild gastritis, which is common with administering heavy medicines and can be effectively handled.”

In other words, anyone who has taken the much more common azithromycin antibiotic for a simple sinus infection has probably suffered about the same distress — all gastric — as a subject of the Vadodara study.

Dr. Mohammad Hussain, who runs Vadodara’s Faith Hospital, told the Express, “There are conflicting studies about the use of HCQ. While initially the US studies rejected it and cited side-effects, European countries backed its prophylactic use. In Vadodara, it has shown positive results. We have been able to restrict cases in clusters. Nagarwada no longer has a huge number of cases.”

Hussain reiterated that no serious side effects were reported.



Why experts think the MMR jab may save adults from Covid: Childhood vaccine at heart of dramatic new trial

Think of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab and one image might spring to mind — a mother cradling an infant as a nurse injects the potentially life-saving vaccine into their arm.

It could soon be the mother receiving the vaccine too — to protect against Covid-19.

Some evidence suggests the triple jab, given to millions of British children since its introduction in the UK in 1988, could be a powerful weapon in the battle against coronavirus, either by protecting adults against infection, or reducing symptoms.

That was certainly the thinking behind the decision by Dr Martin Scurr, the Mail's GP columnist, to have the MMR jab — to 'ginger up' his immunity, as he explained in Good Health last week.

The protective potential of MMR hit the headlines when the crew of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was struck by a Covid-19 outbreak.

More than 1,100 sailors on board tested positive, yet just one needed hospital treatment, (and later died) according to a report published last month in the journal mBio.

Even allowing for the likelihood that many were young and fit, researchers calculated it would still be expected that about 14 per cent (over 150 in this case) would need to be hospitalised.

But the sailors all had one thing in common; as new recruits mostly in their late teens or 20s, each had been given the MMR vaccine, in line with U.S. military policy.

Some scientists think the jab may have protected many crew members against serious illness and could also explain why so few children develop symptoms from Covid-19. In the UK, children make up less than two per cent of confirmed cases.

Between 80 and 90 per cent of all UK children, teenagers and young adults have had the MMR jab, their first dose aged one, and a booster, at three years.

Now the idea that the readily available and relatively cheap vaccine (it costs about £50 privately) could be used to protect millions of adults against Covid-19 is attracting wider interest.

Last month, doctors at the Kasr El Aini Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, began recruiting up to 200 doctors, nurses and carers on the coronavirus frontline to see if giving them the MMR vaccine protects them against severe coronavirus symptoms. The trial — which will run until October — is the first of its kind.

But how might a vaccine against common childhood illnesses tackle the virus?

Most of the 100 or so Covid-19 vaccine trials under way worldwide focus on specific targets unique to the virus itself, and are made either with traces of the 'spike' protein found on the surface of the virus, or fragments of its genetic material. The idea is the immune system recognises the virus material in the vaccines as foreign and creates infection-fighting cells (antibodies and T cells) should it then encounter Covid-19.

In other words, they are designed to work against Covid-19 and nothing else.

The same applies to most infectious disease vaccines. But a small group of vaccines, including the MMR, the BCG jab given to protect against tuberculosis (TB) and the oral version of the polio vaccine, are different.

These are made with 'live' but massively weakened versions of the viruses or bacteria (in the case of the BCG) themselves.

As well as priming the immune system to produce disease-fighting cells that target the infectious organism, live vaccines pep up the whole immune system so it's more alert to any invading organisms. It's thought this is because the presence of any live virus or bacterium is enough to put the whole immune system on alert.

'It's a bit like an army putting all its snipers on duty, ready to take out anything that is a potential threat,' explains Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Edinburgh University.

As we reported in March, there are several trials under way globally to see if the BCG jab can soften the blow of Covid-19.

Last week a study found that the BCG vaccine, that was given to teenagers in this country from 1953 until 2005 to protect against TB, may protect against coronavirus. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences, compared the jab's popularity in a country with their rate of infection and death.

The vaccine has previously been found to combat infectious diseases other than TB. A study, published in The BMJ in 2016, found that babies given the BCG jab were 30 per cent less likely to die of any infectious disease in their first year.

News that the jab might also protect people against coronavirus has led to shortages in some parts of the world. Doctors in Japan said they were running out of BCG as so many adults were paying privately to be immunised as protection against Covid-19. But when it comes to MMR, there could be another reason why the vaccine buffers the effects of Covid-19, say University of Cambridge scientists.

They studied blood samples of British patients treated in the early stages of the pandemic —the antibodies made by their immune system were similar in structure to antibodies produced in response to rubella (German measles), one of three viruses targeted by the MMR vaccine.

The Cambridge team believes the rubella antibodies triggered by the vaccine may be seeing off the coronavirus before it does too much damage.

In a paper online (but not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal), the scientists wrote: 'If there is a link, we propose that vaccination of 'at risk' age groups with an MMR vaccination should be considered. 'To create a Covid-19 vaccine will be arduous and may require time which we cannot afford.'

But some UK experts warn against giving the MMR jab without stronger evidence.

There is 'a good chance' this effect on the immune system is short-lived in some people — days, rather than weeks, months or years, says Professor Riley.

'It's also likely that if as an adult or even as a child your immune system has ever come into contact with measles, mumps or rubella in the past, it will not respond as vigorously to another vaccine. There is no good reason for anyone to pay for a private MMR or indeed BCG vaccine in the hope of avoiding Covid-19.'



The Authoritarian Left Fears a Level Playing Field
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s proposal that Joe Biden shouldn’t debate President Donald Trump unless “a real-time fact-checking team” is part of the mix is an ironic illustration of the closed-mindedness of the left.

Why would Friedman want a candidate who is eager to contrast his views with Trump’s to impose conditions that would make a debate less likely, unless, of course, Friedman realizes that the failing Biden would be particularly disastrous in a debate?

That seems to be the case here, as Friedman’s other condition — that Trump agree to release his tax returns for 2016 through 2018 — is just as unrealistic but not for the reason Democrats would have you believe. It’s not that they think Trump is concealing some sinister criminality but that the returns would be a gold mine for ginning up class resentment against the mega-wealthy Trump and fodder to smear him with innuendo.

Friedman recommends the fact-checkers be approved by both candidates “and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled.”

He arrogantly implies that his candidate — Biden — would automatically win in a truth contest. But why should anyone assume the confessed plagiarist and policy chameleon would have an advantage here?

The answer is that Friedman knows, perhaps subconsciously, that any such process would be rigged. Like so many terms in the liberal lexicon, “fact-checker” doesn’t mean what progressives want you to think it means.

Invariably, fact-checkers are adjuncts of the liberal media who depict opinions as facts, such as a conservative’s assertion (or progressive’s denial) that we have a crisis on the southern border. At one point, the network-news broadcasts were pregnant with panting anchors apoplectic over the claim and dubbed it an outright lie. As conditions at the border steadily deteriorated to undeniable crisis levels, we heard no retraction from Democrats, much less from the opinion-checkers.

We shouldn’t ignore Friedman’s ludicrous proposal simply because it will never be adopted, as it provides a window into the progressive mind. Many progressives are frighteningly narrow-minded, intellectually cloistered and authoritarian. They tend to believe their opinions are facts (or so morally superior that they ought to be treated as such) and so are justified in censoring opposing views as inarguably false, immoral, offensive or politically incorrect.

In institutions they dominate, such as academia and Hollywood (or bar associations), they get to define what is offensive and then ban it – by diktat. For example, Cambridge University rescinded a speaking invitation for psychologist Jordan Peterson because of his skepticism about white privilege and climate change. Compounding foolishness with absurdity, the censors claimed they disinvited him to promote an “inclusive environment.”

Similarly, some state bar associations now require, as part of the continuing legal education lawyers must imbibe to retain their licenses, a course in diversity, inclusion and anti-bias. Attorneys must sit through the propaganda, during which certain debatable assumptions are treated as fact and the progressive agenda is advanced. One presenter admonished his captive audience to consider the possibility of bias in every aspect of their law practice — that they should always be mindful of it as they tackle any legal problem, presumably even those that couldn’t remotely touch on the subject. How’s that for thought control?

One takeaway from these examples and hundreds more is that the left, at its core, lacks confidence that its views could prevail in the marketplace of ideas, and so it manipulates the playing field. We see this in its support for the destruction of monuments and erasing our history because it wants to control not only the current narrative but also the historical one.

Friedman’s fearlessness of fact-checkers doesn’t mean he’s confident that Trump’s dishonesty and Biden’s truthfulness will be exposed but that today’s" fact-checkers" will almost always come down on the side of progressives. Progressives are so used to controlling the narrative that they’re confident their subjective ideas will be presented as factual. Perhaps even scarier is that they think their opinions are objectively true.

Why must they control people and their thoughts? Why can’t they allow people to draw their own lessons from history instead of purging it? Why are they afraid of debate viewers deciding for themselves whether Trump’s or Biden’s ideas are more compelling and truthful?

How often do conservatives propose that we erase evidence of our history? That we ban certain speech because they find it offensive? Do conservative business owners ever send employees to sensitivity training because their views aren’t conservative enough?

Tom Friedman’s laughable idea is no laughing matter because he represents the authoritarian progressive mindset. That many such progressives sincerely believe their ideas are superior isn’t the problem. The problem is that they want to limit your freedom to oppose them.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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