Covid-19 Update – 21st March 2020

covid 19 update
Covid 19 Update

As of the 21 March 2020 the figures are:

Global cases: More than 276,000
Global deaths: More than 11,400

China has slowed the spread of the disease down to single digits and has slowly relaxed its lock down procedures.  Elsewhere the virus is in the escalation phase including Malaysia which has now breached the 1000 patient mark with at least 26 in ICU. It would seem that the restricted movement order will likely be extended given the current trajectory of the spread. The goal of the order would be reduce the number of infected to levels that would not exceed the capacity of our hospitals to cope. This will buy us time until a vaccine is available which will not be less than 12 months away Christians have not been left unscathed throughout this crisis, as one of Covid 19’s first victims was Pastor David Cheng of Emmanuel Baptist Church. Three others in DUMC have been afflicted including Pastor Daniel’s wife and two others in another church in PJ. Let’s continue to hold them in prayer.

Treatment that have been trialed include hydroxychloroquine which is an old anti-malarial drug. It is a zinc ionophore which allows the element to enter the cell and inhibit an enzyme vital for the viral replication. There is evidence in lab studies that this will work to slow the growth of the virus. There is a small French study that showed promise in humans with 25% of patients who received the drug tested positive for the virus after six days, compared with 90% of those who did not receive it. There is currently a 1,500-person trial, led by the University of Minnesota, to see whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of COVID-19 . Novartis is the company that makes the drug will make it readily available for usage in Covid-19 donating 130 million doses for this use and is now in talks with the FDA to allow its expanded usage in Covid-19. Again, as with most medical advances the pace is often slow and this is only at a very preliminary stage of development.

The anti HIV medications lopinavir and ritonavir whilst they showed promise in laboratory studies have failed to produce any meaningful benefit in clinical trials just out of China. The anti-flu medication favipiravir has shown efficacy by more than halving the time that people with Covid-19 test positive for the virus. A trial in China of 340 people showed that the virus tended to be cleared in four days in those who received the drug, versus 11 days in those who
went without.

Remdesivir is an antiviral used for Ebola treatment that has shown effectiveness against Sars and Mers, two other coronaviruses. The drug works by shutting off the virus’s ability to replicate itself inside cells. This has been shown to be useful in early cases of Covid 19. Multiple trials are under way to evaluate remdesivir in China, the US and Asia, with the first results due in April. There was a publication in 2017 in the British Medical Journal by Adrian R Martineau and colleagues who looked at about 11,000 patients in a meta analysis of 25 controlled randomised trials looking at the use of Vit D supplements in the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. They found that daily small doses of the vitamin was protective against the incidence of these infections especially amongst those who were Vit D deficient. Hence there might be some benefit of this in Covid-19.

Peter Ng