Valley News – Forum, December 19: Switching from vaccines to antivirals in the battle against COVID-19
Published: 12/18/2021 10:00:19 PM
Modified: 12/18/2021 22:00:04
The US approach to the pandemic has mainly focused on vaccines. However, the virus has evolved. He has become more resistant. It has learned to evade vaccines and antibodies and our immune system and has become more transmissible and contagious, if not more deadly.
Specifically, the delta variant and the new omicron variant have many spike protein mutations that help it avoid antibody binding. Delta has three spike protein mutations and omicron now has 32. That’s an order of magnitude increase. It is time to consider other countermeasures.
The virus under evolutionary pressure has “learned” to avoid antibodies. Whether these antibodies are acquired from previous infections, whether they are produced in response to our vaccines, or whether they come from a direct infusion of monoclonal antibodies, antibodies should no longer be our defense.
A new arsenal of antivirals is being developed, and some are now ready for clinical use.
These antivirals sometimes work within the cell to interfere with the virus’s ability to replicate. The most attractive and simple mechanism is to provide a “defective” nucleotide building block for the virus. In this case, the viral polymerase is unable to produce new offspring from the viral mRNA template.
Antivirals can be delivered in several ways. Like home COVID-19 tests, they can be used without healthcare professionals. Many people can give these antivirals by injection at home the same way people inject insulin for diabetes. But antivirals can also be given through a skin patch, such as applying a bandage. And finally, even simpler, they can be delivered via a nasal spray.
Antivirals will allow us to defeat this virus so that we can resume normal life in 2022.
JOSEPH M. ROSEN
The writer is Professor of Surgery and Radiology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Geisel School of Medicine, Staff Physician at White River Junction VA Medical Center, and Assistant Professor of Engineering at Thayer School of Engineering in Dartmouth. The opinions expressed are his own.
Call it that: a betrayal of democracy.
The deranged behavior of U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene towards her colleagues in the House and her bizarre statements about President Joe Biden and Democrats, radical right-wing Republicans threatening the lives of the 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan bill on infrastructure; offering a conservative group a $ 500 bounty to the person who first successfully catches a law-breaking New Hampshire public school teacher; the Texas bounty system that rewards any citizen for reporting an abortion in progress.
Republicans subvert citizens’ right to vote, attack schools, refuse to be vaccinated. Many of Donald Trump’s loyalists fear their leader and, like him, have an unbridled desire for power and influence.
This, combined with the idea that the end justifies the means, makes this scenario frightening.
Before throwing our democracy to the wolves, we had better try to bridge our differences on issues that people hold dear, like the size of government, individualism and privatization. Any dialogue will require a commitment to listen and learn and a firm belief that no one has a monopoly on the truth.
About the size of government: The problems of dilapidated public housing and food insecurity in urban areas are not easily solved, certainly not by individuals and charities. They require substantial government action. Question: How can the government deal with specific problems and to what extent?
Individualism conditions people to believe that they are alone and responsible only for themselves. This detachment from community fails to recognize our shared identities and moral goals. Question: How can we create a sense of community that respects people’s privacy?
Along with healthcare and COVID-19, privatization is creating what public health experts call “separate care.” Research shows that private systems tend to produce worse health outcomes than public systems. Question: When is it better to rely on public services and when on the private?
To work on these issues, we need to engage and discuss with people who have different points of view and who imagine a future that is very different from ours.
On December 15th, I had dropped my wife off for a meeting on Lyme Road and had an hour to spare. I decided to visit Hanover True Value Hardware and buy a pair of pliers for my wife. She has arthritis in her hands and needs tweezers to open the bottle caps. The manager took me to the location of the small tool, but the store was out of stock. He said some might arrive with his next shipment, but couldn’t guarantee it due to supply chain issues. He then suggested that I try Fogg’s Lumber and Hardware over the river in Norwich!
It was an easy trip so I went. At the reception I showed a gentleman my old dirty pliers and asked him where the small tools were displayed. He walked me to the rack and, as was the case at True Value, they were out of stock. I thanked him for trying and followed him to the store entrance. As I was about to leave, he leaned over and took another pair of pliers from a cardboard box and said, âHere, try this. They are not what you wanted, but they could work well for you. I thanked him and asked him how many there were. He has answered. âThere is no charge. They are free and merry Christmas!
It made me think about what a great place I live, full of good people!