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Coronavirus Pandemic: Finding the Ultimate Drug Cocktail! No One Magic Pill

Brian Turner

Posted on May 08 2020

 

By Steve Blechman

 

There is no vaccine available until next year at the earliest, although last week President Trump and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced emergency-use authorization to Gilead Sciences, Inc. for the drug remdesivir. The announcement in the media helped send the stock market soaring! Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, (NIAID) said that remdesirvir can speed the recovery of COVID-19 patients. “Doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%,” Dr. Fauci said, but “it is a very important proof of concept because what it has proven is that a drug can block the virus.”

The new NIAID study data hasn’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The FDA said the findings were based on preliminary analysis and that more detailed results will be released in the future. In this study, 1,063 patients were given remdesivir or placebo. Those that received remdesirvir recovered in 11 days compared to 15 days for those on the placebo. According to Dr. Fauci, there were less deaths in the remdesivir group but it did not reach statistical results. Remdesivir looks very promising as an anti-viral drug for treating COVID-19 patients. It interrupts the production of the virus in laboratory and animal studies. The bottom line is no one antiviral drug is going to be a magic cure! It will most likely take a cocktail of several different existing or new antiviral drugs possibly combined with immunotherapies, convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies, hyperimmune globulins, anti-inflammatory drugs, ACE-2 receptor modulator and stem cell therapy. We won’t know for sure until we do properly controlled clinical trials to test for safety and efficacy when combined.

I do believe that the ultimate drug cocktail can and must be found until a safe and effective vaccine is made available! A new and exciting study published in the journal Nature on April 30 reported that researchers are testing thousands of drugs including older medicines already FDA approved for treating COVID-19. The researchers found that the antiviral chlorpromazine (Thorazine) can prevent the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from invading healthy cells. Also, the anti-viral drug “PB28” is 20 times more potent than hydroxychloroquine. The new antiviral drug candidate EIDD-2801 looks promising. A U.S. clinical trial is planned in May. It attacks the same viral enzyme as Gilead Sciences’ remdesirvir.

The world is searching and racing to find a safe and effective vaccine as soon as possible, especially the U.S. and China – but also other nations such as Great Britain. How fast can a vaccine be made available to millions and billions of people safely? Two of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the United States, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, say they will provide millions and a billion doses by the end of 2021. Other big pharma drug companies working on vaccines are Britain’s AstraZeneca for promising millions of doses by the end of 2020. Other companies working on a vaccine are Pfizer, Sanofi U.S., Inovio, CanSino, and German pharmaceutical company, BioNTech. President Trump is overseeing “Operation Warp Speed” to hopefully get millions of doses available by the end of the year. China and India are also working on a vaccine at great speed. The key is who will win the race and provide billions of doses to the public. No one wants to wait several years while many die and our economy is destroyed. But what if it does take two to five years to provide a safe and effective vaccine in mass quantities of millions and billions of dosages? Or never, like in the case of treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which has been treated successfully without finding a cure or vaccine, but a drug cocktail to contain the virus?

Researchers are looking at hundreds of existing drugs being used for other treatments. The FDA says 72 drug treatments are in trial at this time and hopefully some clinically tested and quickly available in the near future. Like I said earlier, there is no one magic pill! The key is finding the ultimate drug cocktail and proven safe and effective in well-controlled clinical trials. Drug makers such as Pfizer (Xeljanz), Roche Holding AG (Actemra), CytoDyn (Leronlimab) just some of the drug companies working on antiviral, anti-inflammatory cytokine blockers and immunomodulators for the potential treatment of the coronavirus. 

260 monoclonal antibodies have shown to bind the coronavirus proteins and block viral entry into the cell. San Francisco Dr. Jacob Glanville, who is highlighted in the Netflix documentary “Pandemic,” has acknowledged that he and his company are working on monoclonal antibody therapy to block the coronavirus from infecting human cells. Convalescent plasma treatment, which I mentioned in my past articles, has very promising results that were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, March 27, 2020). Another study was recently published (April 6, 2020) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PNAS reported that in just three days of convalescent plasma therapy, fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain significantly improved and there was improved lung function, and reduced inflammation. Hopefully in the near future, controlled randomized clinical trials will further support these findings.

An anti-inflammatory drug approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis, tocilizumab (Actemra), which I mentioned in my past articles, developed by biotech company Genentech and sold by Roche Holding AG, has great potential in treating COVID-19 patients with the deadly cytokine storm.

A major breakthrough was most recently reported and published in the May 4th 2020 issue of the journal Nature Communications, which reported “the first report of a (human) monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2.” The antibody is called 47D11. “Neutralizing antibodies can alter the course of infection in the infected host, supporting virus clearance or protect an uninfected host that is exposed to the virus.” “This is groundbreaking research,” said Dr. Jingsong Wang, the founder of Harbor Biomed (HBM), which carried out the study in the Netherlands with researchers at Utrecht University Erasmus Medical Center.

We already know that people over the age of 65 are at the highest risk of dying from the coronavirus. People who are overweight and obese (which increases inflammation) and those with pre-exisitng ailments such as metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, heart and cardiovasacular disease are also at greater risk of death from COVID-19.

Like I said in my past articles, a healthy diet and lifestyle changes such as following the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet along with exercise has been shown to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, and high-risk ailments. The Mediterranean diet is the healthiest diet, based on the latest scientific research. The Mediterranean diet, an anti-inflammatory diet, has great potential to naturally help tame down the uncontrolled hyperimmune response, which causes the potentially deadly cytokine storm and severe inflammation. The cytokine storm not only damages the lungs but also the heart, cardiovascular system, blood vessels, liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys and brain. And it causes severe blood clots all over the body, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. The anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and seafood (containing omega-3 fats) and extra-virgin olive oil and nuts (rich in monounsaturated fats) and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and red wine, and berries rich in polyphenols.

Adequate sleep, 7-8 hours daily, and proper nutrition is important for a healthy immune function, which includes fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, polyphenols, plus vitamin D and important minerals zinc and selenium.

It was most recently reported by ScienceDaily on April 29 and published in the April 28 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that an “international team of researchers lead by Professor Margaret Rayman at the University of Surrey, has identified a link between COVID-19 cure rate and regional selenium status in China.”  This is a very exciting finding! Selenium is an essential trace element obtained in the diet from fish, seafood, and nuts, (tuna, sardines, oysters, halibut, shrimp, salmon and crab) and Brazil nuts (Healthline, January 16, 2018) are sources of the antioxidant selenium. Egg whites are the richest natural source of the amino acid cysteine (egg yolks are a rich source of arachidonic acid, a highly undesirable, inflammatory fatty acid). Cysteine is a precursor of glutathione in the body. Selenium enhances the function of glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the body. 

In conclusion, as the economic pain of shutdown lessens and our economy begins to reopen, we cannot take our foot off the pedal in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus! Eating healthy, exercising more, less daily stress, and getting adequate sleep can all help control our weight and improve our overall metabolic health. We also need more testing, which includes for diagnosis and antibodies (from an established FDA-approved company, such as Roche Holding AG) plus, social distancing (six feet separation), the use of face masks, and properly washing your hands. Also, most important, big pharma successfully finding the ultimate drug cocktail until an effective and safe vaccine is made available!! 

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  3. Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
  4. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
  5. Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)
  6. New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

 

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