We live in a world of soundbites where complex issues are often condensed into memes and slogans. When it comes to fighting a global health threat like 2019-nCoV the simple reality is that memes and slogans are not going to cut it. We need statesmanship and we need leadership, so it's reassuring to see exactly that coming from from the Director-General of WHO - Dr Tedros Adhanom in a speech given earlier today. Key parts of this speech are quoted below:
It’s hard to believe that just two months ago, this virus – which has come to captivate the attention of media, financial markets, and political leaders – was completely unknown to us.
As of 6am Geneva time this morning, there were 42,708 confirmed cases reported in China, and tragically we have now surpassed 1000 deaths - 1017 people in China have lost their lives to this outbreak.
Outside China, there are 393 cases in 24 countries, with 1 death, in the Philippines.
With 99% of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world. Unless we use the window of opportunity that we have now.
This outbreak is testing us in many ways.
It’s a test of political solidarity – whether the world can come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies.
It’s a test of financial solidarity – whether the world will invest now in fighting this outbreak, or pay more later to deal with its consequences.
And it’s a test of scientific solidarity – will the world come together to find shared answers to shared problems?
That’s why we’re here today.
This is not a meeting about politics or money. This is a meeting about science.
We need your collective knowledge, insight and experience to answer the questions we don’t have answers to, and to identify the questions we may not even realize we need to ask.
There is still so much we don’t know.
What are the reservoirs?
What are the transmission dynamics?
What is the period of infectiousness?
Which samples should be used for diagnosis and monitoring of treatment?
What is the best way to manage cases of severe disease?
What ethical issues we need to be aware of in the way we do our research?
To defeat this outbreak, we need answers to all those questions, and more.
Dr Tedros' speech ended like this:
To defeat this outbreak, we need open and equitable sharing, according to the principles of fairness and equity.
WHO remains committed to equitable access to health products for populations that need them, and we will work to ensure that access is always part of all R&D efforts.
Publications, patents and profits are not what matters now.
What matters most is stopping the outbreak and saving lives.
The full text can be found on the WHO website here.
To battle the coronavirus emergency, Chinese government and medical experts are publicly backing off-label use of HIV medication Kaletra (Lopinavir/Ritonavir). In its updated clinical guidance, China’s National Health Commission says AbbVie’s fixed-dose HIV drug Kaletra is now recommended as a treatment for pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV. This medication is inexpensive because generic Kaletra is widely available online from sites like FixRx.
Kaletra’s two antiretroviral components, lopinavir and ritonavir, are protease inhibitors designed to block HIV viral replication. It is thought these drugs could do the same with 2019-nCoV originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan. Although not approved to treat any coronavirus anywhere, it has shown efficacy in at least one case in the current outbreak in China.
Wang Guangfa, the leader of Peking University First Hospital’s pulmonary and critical care medicine department, contracted the virus as a member of a national expert team dispatched to Wuhan. Kaletra cured his disease, Wang told state-run China News Service in a report (Chinese) on Thursday.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Kaletra has previously worked against a coronavirus. A Chinese study published in 2004 noted, “the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir among SARS-CoV patients was associated with substantial clinical benefit (fewer adverse clinical outcomes)”.
SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is also caused by a coronavirus, and the older pathogen bears much resemblance to the newly emerged one. SARS hit China hard during a 2002-2003 epidemic, killing about 700 in the country alone. As of Sunday, 2019-nCoV has led to 2,744 confirmed infections in all parts of China and killed 80 people, according to Chinese authorities.
China has adopted various measures to contain the virus, including putting Wuhan - population 11 million - on complete quarantine, implementing the highest level of public health response across the country, and extending the Chinese New Year holiday to avoid large-scale migration that could contribute to disease spread.
Edited from an article by Angus Liu
Full article available here.