June 10, 2020 Corona Update

No, you did not miss last week’s Corona Update – we resumed a full-time schedule last week and time was a little tight, so these may come out a bit less frequently.  You have probably heard enough about this subject by now, anyway. 

Let me start by eating a little crow.  Shortly after my previous update, the Lancet, which published the large study on hydroxychloroquine, retracted the study due to their inability to verify the raw data from which conclusions were drawn.  A U.S. company called Surgisphere was one of the chief suppliers of the data.  Surgisphere gleans data from electronic medical record systems around the world and packages it for researchers.  Apparently, their collection practices were sloppy and inconsistent, and they refused to supply the data to peer reviewers for independent analysis.  The Lancet had no choice to withdrawal the study. 

Does this mean you should pick up a roll of hydroxychloroquine along with a roll of Rolaids during your next masked visit to the pharmacy?   No.  All data preceding the Lancet study did not show a benefit to taking hydroxychloroquine.  The big difference in the Lancet article was an astounding increase in mortality in those taking the medication compared to placebo.  This may or may not be correct.  Other studies, including the potential benefit of taking hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis against the disease will emerge to clarify this issue.  (Of course, we may not be able to trust them either) There is certainly a rush to get information out, and the normal, careful review of data by major medical journals may be compromised in the current frantic atmosphere.  If this does not give you confidence, you are in good company.   

News of the Pandemic seemed to disappear over the last 2 weeks because of the obvious bombshell that   made headlines around the country and the world.  Scenes of abandoned streets in major cities suddenly changed to mayhem, with masked (and unmasked) protesters practicing social distancing by banding together and shouting at the top of their lungs.  What could go wrong? We are about to find out.  Let’s hope that most of the protestors are under 40 and will become immune to the virus without getting sick, and we will get our herd immunity cooking.   

In response to the recent unrest, a group of 1200 healthcare professionals based at the University of Washington signed a letter supporting the protests, declaring that they were more important than the potential harm that could come from tens of thousands of people coughing on one another in close proximity during a Pandemic.   This prompts the questions, “where did you go to medical school?”   and “how long have you been taking that Prevagen?”  (I am not passing judgement on the protestors, only on the medical professionals who have recommended the equivalent of licking the handrails in Penn Station)

In the United States, the status of the viral outbreak remains mixed, with overall numbers continuing to improve.  Hotspots of viral spreading are now occurring in Arizona and Houston and the Carolinas.  New York and New Jersey are doing extremely well, with very few hospitalizations and deaths from the virus.

In Maryland, all numbers continue to improve including deaths from Coronavirus, hospitalizations, and percent of people who test positive.  Testing has increased to about 10,000 people per day on average.   If trends continue, case numbers will likely reach their lowest point this summer.  The autumn remains an unknown with the possibility of continued improvement or a second wave of virus.   Chances are that the virus will be the equivalent of a live-in mother-in-law until a suitable vaccine is developed and she moves out.   

We are back in full swing in our practice, and I almost miss the quiet days of April, with virus looming around every corner. 

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