Monday, March 23, 2020

Osterholm: Living And Dying With Covid-19

Below is a youtube interview of Michael Osterholm. He raises some important points, although without offering solutions--he wants all to talk about these things, which I guess we're doing here. My one reservation is the emphasis he places on developing a vaccine. You'll see, reading between the lines of my partial transcript, that he's not really optimistic about that. If you've read his book you'll know what he thinks about the whole matter of vaccines and their effectiveness with regard to diseases like the flu--and presumably also regarding coronaviruses. The common cold is a coronavirus--have you had your common cold vaccine this year? Then why do you think you'll be getting a Covid-19 vaccine any time soon.

That's why I was disappointed that he didn't mention--nor was he asked--about possible new treatments (like chloroquine) that attack the virus itself rather than attempt to alleviate the symptoms.

Here's a partial transcript. The entire video is only about 4 minutes. What I've done here is offer most of Osterholm's more important remarks, without the questions.

He sees as a positive development that the world is finally waking up to the fact that we can't ignore this. 
We're having the discussions and taking the actions that we really needed to do to address this. 
There's a tremendous misconception about "bending the curve." This virus is likely going to be here until we have a vaccine--which, if I were to be optimistic, I'd say would be 18 months. 
When we try to "bend the curve" we suppress cases, but all we're doing is postponing them, not eliminating them. 
I hear this notion that we'll be in this till April or August--I think we're gonna be in this for many, many months. We have to bend the curve every day, not just one time. 
We have to have a conversation about how we're gonna die with this virus ... but we also have to consider how we're gonna live with it. And we hafta figure that out. Do these measures that we're taking work, and do we envision an America that for the next 18 months will be in lockdown? 
As soon as China goes back to work and people are on subways and trains and all the different forms of transportation, when they're cheek to jowl in manufacturing plants, when they're in public places, I for one believe that we're gonna see a resurgence of cases. 
I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to bend the curve. Postponing cases means that they're just gonna happen later, which means that we continue to drag this out. That's the hope. We hafta do that. But the hope also includes that we'll have a vaccine. Otherwise the 20 to 60 per cent of Americans that we believe will get this WILL get this. Our hope is that we'll suppress this, but we'll only be saved when we have a vaccine.


  1. Although the flu vaccine has not been a 100% success, it has tamped down the symptoms in many cases. Shortened the duration of the illness. The only flu my DH and I have had was after we had shots, and it was fairly mild - no worse than a bad cold. We did not realize Tamiflu was an option until the 24 hours or so during which it is believed to be effective had passed. Later, I needed a bronchodilator for a lingering cough.

    Flu vaccination production is said to be based upon the flu strains from the previous season. The flu bugs change from year to year, so that is a problem. It makes sense that it would take some time to produce and test a new vaccine when it could be out of date by the next year. The testing is needed to show efficacy and to prevent unforeseen side effects.

    Many anti-vaxxers have decided the flu shots did not good, etc., etc. so skip them. Would they feel differently about a COVID-19 vaccine?

    I am in the camp that goes for treating the symptoms, the possibility that the malaria drug + azithromicin (great stuff) cure the disease, and adherence to social separation/isolation.

  2. Chloroquine is cheap and Novartis just donated 130 million pills & Teva is giving 10 million. 4 companies are cranking up the supply. Give everyone some pills and let's get back to work! I hope we have enough z-packs to go around. :-)

    1. The Osterholm interview was 3/17, but I believe there was already talk of Chloroquine, so I was disappointed he didn't bring it up on his own.

      Nor is this some sort of bolt out of the blue. Chloroquine's antiviral potential and the mechanism by which that works is not news. Osterholm is hugely afraid of a new flu pandemic like the Spanish flu. Back around 2012 chloroquine was tried on an avian flu and found to be extremely effective. That particular flu was able to spread from birds to humans, and when it did so it had a death rate of 60%! Fortunately, it wasn't able to spread from human to human, but the fear with any flu virus is that--because they mutate so frequently--it would mutate and become able to make that jump. Obviously chloroquine was being considered back then for use against killer flus. Covid-19 isn't the flu, but the anti-viral action of chloroquine isn't specific to flu viruses.