Hi, I’m Kirk Jowers,
and welcome to the March 17th episode of COVID-19 with Dr. Russell Osguthorpe.
Russ, thank you for being with us again. My pleasure.
We’ll start with this graphic from the World Health Organization.
There are now 184,976 confirmed cases, 7,529 deaths, and 159 countries with cases.
The first testing in humans of experimental vaccine has begun in the United States,
but, even if it is proved safe and effective, its potential availability is unknown.
It’ll take a while. We can talk about that later.
Yeah, that’s my first question to you. Iran confirmed its largest spike in cases
in a 24-hour period. Europe is experiencing critical shortages
of medical supplies that extends now beyond northern Italy.
Attorney General William Barr, here in the United States,
is asking federal prosecutors to crack down on people spreading false claims and scams.
Thirty-seven states in the US have closed public schools.
In California, seven million residents, and climbing, have been ordered to shelter in
place. That was a big one.
It’s a big one. It goes to your social distancing, you’ve
talked about a lot with us. Today, stocks rebounded a bit after yesterday’s
excruciating 3,000 point loss. It finished up over 1,000 points for the day.
And in, I guess, coordination with the economic issues,
various proposals from the White House, Senate, many states, and municipalities are trying
to get a handle on the economic consequences of this.
Likewise, country by country, we could say the same thing.
Yeah, the economic consequences almost seem as scary sometimes as the actual cases.
It does to me too. I’ve got friends in Italy that are talking
about life there, and industry is going down.
Yeah. And, of course, small businesses probably
have it more tough than anyone else. The effects of the economic downturn are going
to be felt for a while. So, let me get straight to the questions.
What can you tell us about this new vaccine trial underway in Seattle?
Well, there’s not a lot out except that there is an early phased trial of a vaccine that
has been developed that looks to be tested in approximately 45
human subjects. There are other vaccines that are in similar
stages of development, and other countries are also working on vaccines.
So everybody’s trying to come up with a way to prevent this illness.
This early phase is really just about immune response and safety,
and they’re going to work on efficacy in later, larger studies,
much, much larger studies, before a vaccine is approved by the FDA in the United States
for use, for example. So what can we learn from the 2009 pandemic?
It certainly didn’t reach these levels, but…. Yeah, sure.
What happened with those vaccines? So influenza is a little bit different than
coronaviruses in that we have a huge industry set up to make vaccine for influenza every
year, for a worldwide epidemic of influenza that
occurs every year. And in 2009’s pandemic, we took advantage
of that infrastructure. We’re able to make a vaccine in relatively
short order, get it tested, distributed quickly, manufactured quickly,
and a large majority of the developed world received the vaccine very, very quickly.
Very quickly. Can you quantify that from start to finish?
Yes, sure. First cases in April of 2009, vaccine by October.
0h, wow. So it was really quick.
But you think that’s an ambitious projection for this one?
I think so. I think that the same sort of infrastructure
and industry don’t exist. We have a lot of technology.
We’ve even come far in the last 10 years in terms of vaccine, and manufacturing, and development.
But we still have to do all of the manufacturing, distribution.
And that’s after the vaccine has been tested and found to be efficacious.
So the director of NIAID, Anthony Fauci, has said that it would be eight months, in his
mind, before we saw a vaccine. And I think that’s a decent estimate.
OK, we’ll keep an eye on that. Second, the United States is way behind many
other countries in our testing. Though, there are other countries that have
done none to almost no testing. What does this lack of testing portend?
The lack of testing is a real problem. For example, if you knew you had the virus
it would change how you would act for an average member of society.
Right. You’d say, “OK, I’m positive. I’m staying
But if you didn’t know you had the virus, and we’ve all heard that there are other viruses
circulating, then maybe you just kind of say,
“Well, I just think I’m, I have the cold. Maybe I won’t change the way I behave that
much.” That’s the problem.
If we have widely available testing, we can isolate, quarantine, and respond differently,
both as governments as well as individual members of society.
So testing is really, really important, and it’s going to be a while, I think, before,
for example, in the United States, we have available testing
that is widely, widely available. We’re ramping up right now,
but we’re still far short of the tests that we need.
And the final question. Again, thank you everyone for your comments
and for watching and contributing. Several people have asked,
“How should people take care of loved ones who have COVID-19, or have symptoms consistent
with COVID-19?” Although there are a few cases that are positive,
relatively speaking, per the size of the population of the United States, or around the world
for that matter, it’s important to understand the answer to
the question you just asked. If I’m asked to care for my husband, or my
child, or my young adult who’s living at home with this virus, what do I do?
I think the best advice I’d give is, the Centers for Disease Control, on their
web site, has a whole section of COVID-19 response dedicated to this exact thing.
And the highlights of that are if you are a caregiver for somebody with COVID-19 or
with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that person, ideally, the person with symptoms,
will be isolated to a room in your home that, if it’s available, if your home has this available,
they would be in a separate room, behind a closed door, with its own bathroom.
And if that can be the case, then that socially distances you from the people within your
own home. If you are going into that room to deliver
food or, to take out laundry, or to clean, do so with rigorous handwashing and, where
possible, a glove and a mask. You are in effect a caregiver of that patient
who is your family member, and so, you want to limit the spread of that virus
to you, as the caregiver, much the same way a doctor, or a nurse, or a respiratory therapist
would if they were caring for somebody in a hospital.
And so, if your family member doesn’t need a hospital and can be cared for at home,
you’re going to be the one that needs to do the protective measures to limit spread within
your own home. Thank you so much, and thank you for joining
us. We’ll see you tomorrow.