Updated: Apr 10, 2020
CDC VIRUS Image
Not out of the woods yet, but hope is on the horizon.
Recently, there has been a lot of news about the drug, hydrochloroquine. It has long been FDA-approved (on the market since 1955) for malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Last week, the FDA issued an emergency-use authorization for the drug to be employed against the deadly pneumonia-producing Coronavirus. Patients and doctors have been reporting on its effectiveness . Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D) said she began feeling relief “in less than two hours” after being prescribed the drug on March 31. She was grateful the Administration had made it an emergency priority. She believes it saved her life.
Tim Goedhart on Unsplash
Why would hydrochloroquine be controversial?
Scientists and medical professionals rely on research data from clinical trials. There hasn't been time to collect and study trial data on the drug's treatment of this particular infection, so there are those who remain skeptical. While the mechanism of action for the drug is still emerging, it is known to be a weak base that is believed to interfere with important cellular activity and to prohibit immune activation. Viruses (as opposed to bacteria) are small enough to enter human cells. Once in the cell, they begin to hijack it, weaving their own RNA into the cell's DNA. Hydrochloroquine is able to interrupt the newly-mutated cell's activity so the VIRUS is not able to survive. One of the disruptions caused by the drug is its ability to inhibit lysosomes, or the waste-removing organelles, that eliminate "garbage" from the cell. This is beneficial because the virus will now die within the accumulating toxins of the diseased cell. The drug has already proven effective for treatment against the malaria parasite. It makes sense that patients and doctors are experiencing results in its use against the Coronoavirus, as well.
The drug is also effective against the autoimmune diseases, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, because, in these diseases, the body's immune system is not properly functioning but is attacking itself. Therefore, the prohibition of immune system over- activation has reduced pain, inflammation, & ongoing destruction for the sufferers.
Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash
Drug side effects manifest with long-term use.
Misinformation is scaring and confusing some, which is another reason there are those doubting the drug. The Journal of College Cardiology sited, in its March 2018 issue, a case, in which a 65-year-old man had taken the drug for 8 years in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. He developed cardiomyopathy, a disease which makes it harder for the heart to pump. Medical treatment was given to him and the patient showed clinical improvement. The Scientific Journal of the Royal College of Ophthamologists reported, in the online March 2017 edition, that patients who used hydoxychloroquine more than 5 years, developed an increased risk of retinopathy, which is small blood vessel damage in the back of the eyes. So, there is evidence that a risk exists for those who take the drug long-term. But, in the case of Coronavirus treatment, a prescription for 5-10 days has been used to attack the mutant-hijacking virus, thereby saving many lives.
Clinical trials need to determine best future medication.
It has been said that you go to war with the army you have. We are at war with the VIRUS. Anti-viral drugs (which interrupt the chain events of viral replication) have shown, so far, to be ineffective against this VIRUS. That leaves not much weaponry for the current army to fight Covid-19. Future tests may uncover a more effective drug to treat VIRUS outbreaks that follow. But, hydrochloroquine has demonstrated itself to be safe, effective, available, and economical in treating many who have succumbed to this deadly infection. So, there is hope on the horizon for a victory over the current catastrophic, world-wide pandemic.
Continued compliance with CDC guidelines is critical.
This is optimistic news for hope and healing in the near future, if we stick with the protocol of physical (social) distancing on essential-only outings. Even though self-imposed quarantine has been difficult, it remains extremely important, along with frequent hand washing & other CDC recommendations, to reduce further spread.
Well, in this most unusual season, I hope you still have happy Easter & Passover celebrations! I've heard it said many are planning their isolated, yet united, sunrise tributes for God's miraculous gift of Everlasting Life and Love. Best holiday wishes, and, as always, happy trails along your journey of success!