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…And – Another Helpful Drug!

By Shlomo Maital

   Why do many COVID-19 sufferers die? A group of researchers at Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, may have found a major cause.  

   Many COVID-19 patients die when blood clots form and damage key organs. According to the Jerusalem Post: “Hadassah researchers discovered that patients who form fatal blood clots have an increased level of alpha defensin protein in their blood.”

   At least 30% of patients with coronavirus develop blood clots that block the flow of blood to their kidneys, heart and brain, as well as the lungs, according to international research.

     The research team has discovered what they believe causes coronavirus patients to become seriously ill and even die. They also say they have a way to treat the cause before it’s too late.

   According to Jerusalem Post’s Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, “The Hadassah team studied more than 700 blood samples from 80 patients who were admitted to the medical center during the first peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel. The results show that alpha defensin speeds up blood clot formation, which can cause pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and stroke. In addition, when blood clots form in the alveoli, whose function it is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules to and from the bloodstream, this can lead to respiratory distress and eventually intubation. [Alveoli are the tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles (tiny branches of air tubes in the lungs)]”..

     Multiple studies have shown that around 80% of coronavirus patients who are intubated have diedThe Hadassah team is en route to a solution: administering the drug colchicine to coronavirus patients.    Colchicine is an approved drug used in the prevention and treatment of gout attacks, caused by too much uric acid in the blood.

     They have completed testing colchicine on mice and found that it successfully inhibited the release of alpha defensin. Now, they are waiting for the necessary approvals to test it on human coronavirus patients.

   The researchers said that clinical trials would look at use of the drug both for severe cases and administering it to patients with mild or moderate symptoms to see if it will help decrease the chances of their developing a severe case of the disease.

Doctors Share, Globally: So Should We!

By Shlomo Maital

   Doctors all over the world are using social media to rapidly share information about the coronavirus. And this is saving lives. Here is an example.

   An emergency room doctor at Lincoln Hospital, in the Bronx, New York City, reports on the BBC that some distressed COVID-19 patients are NOT being intubated, with ventilators. And the results are good. Why? What is going on?

   An Italian doctor published, on social media, the following insight: There are two types of coronavirus patients: L type and H type. L type have poor oxygenation, 60-70% oxygenation of their blood, or even 50% (normal is 95%). But they show no distress, are hungry and have good clinical presentations. Hmm. The H types have similar lack of oxygen, struggle to breathe – and they definitely need intubation.  

     Intubating L type patients can be harmful, and actually make them worse. Besides, with ventilators very scarce, misusing them can actually cost lives, by depriving those who need them.  The Lincoln Hospital doctor read this and acted on it, with success.  Well done!

     There is a desperate need to learn more about the novel coronavirus, and because this is a pandemic, it is vital to share knowledge rapidly, efficiently, candidly and truthfully, among countries. And doctors are doing this. They are sharing insights on-line and other doctors, despite long desperate work days, are tracking this literature and learning and applying what they learn.   As they are in Lincoln Hospital, Bronx.

     We can all learn from this. Why just doctors? We all can share ideas, creative solutions, and information. There is a catch. There are evil people out there, spreading rumors, fake news, conspiracy theories…and muddying the water, fogging the insights. And there are miscreants who are inserting pornography into Zoom conferences, some of them important.

     Twitter has been effective in preventing and punishing fake news. You get a warning, then removal, and have to meet conditions to get back on. Facebook has been delinquent and unwilling, for the most part. With social media playing a crucial role today, we cannot afford to have them act as delinquents, like Facebook. If needed, regulators should step up and put their feet to the fire.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital