I fell off a ladder the other day. Stupid, I know, but I need to relearn things now and then. You see, I was in a hurry to get done, pulling a stubborn nail from a ten-foot top plate. I didn’t have a good angle, so I was leaning on a ladder. Me, the crow bar and the nailed brace hit the concrete. The crow bar bounced; I didn’t.
As I’ve aged the aphorisms of John Wooden, renowned basketball coach for UCLA, have stuck with me. There’s one I say to myself, not often enough these days: Always be quick, but never hurry. I’m afraid our country is in a hurry right now.
For sure, our President and Senate Republicans are hurrying to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat; can’t blame them. But that hurried Rose Garden announcement might have had some consequences, maybe worse than my little ladder event for some. Time will tell.
And the hurry of the Senate to confirm Judge Coney Barrett might have more consequences. Not just for future SCOTUS decisions, but more, for how we all see this government that is supposed to represent us. We’ll have to find the answer to that in the coming decades.
We are quickly finding out some answers to how this new virus acts, though there’s still lots to learn. More important, we’re also learning quickly how our bodies react to a SARS Corona Virus-2 infection.
When our bodies identify a viral threat there are many immunologic possibilities. Part of the original fear (back in the winter) for this never-been-seen-before virus was trying to understand just how our bodies would react. We got to watch lots of people get sick, some die, more survive and we have learned quite a bit. It really has been quick.
For some people with severe infections, the immune response can be almost as damaging to the body tissues as the virus. Now, when people are hospitalized and have a severe enough infection the use of steroids is tried. Steroids suppress the immune response, with moderate results. But it seems our President received steroids, despite the characterization of his as a mild case.
We have developed a range of antiviral drugs in the last 20 years. Gilead developed remdisivir initially to treat Hepatitis C, then we got this pandemic. The FDA approved remdisivir for treatment of severe Covid disease, though the evidence of its efficacy is early. Our President is now on a 5-day course. The cost for you, if you have private insurance would be about $3000. For folks with government insurance it runs $2000. I’m surprised this hasn’t helped Gilead stock. I hope it helps our President.
The human immune response to COVID infections has not yielded a lot of surprises. People with severe infections seem to mount strong immune responses, but then the antibody levels drop off fairly quickly. And it seems there have been multiple reports of reinfection. But it does seem our immune system does remember corona viruses, though not well. Many common colds are corona viruses, and we seem to get them often enough.
Learning how the human body reacts to infections takes time and study. So, making an effective vaccine, one that stimulates the immune system enough to trigger an adequate immune response but not make the patient sick is going to be a lot of work, and a delicate balance. Best not hurry.
The biggest problem might be promoting the confidence in the public that a vaccine could even work. Right now we’re at about 50-50. Hurrying along public confidence might be harder than herding cats. I know, I’m an Idaho Democrat.