COVID-19: Treatments, Testing, & Timeline | Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. on Joe Rogan Experience #1451

Check out Dr. Peter Hotez’s first appearance on JRE

Key Takeaways

  • The coronavirus is about 5-10x more lethal than the regular seasonal flu
    • The seasonal flu kills 12-50K people annually 
    • It’s estimated that COVID-19 will kill between 50-500K Americans. Peter Hotez believes the number will be closer to 84K
  • The coronavirus affects individuals across age groups, including young people 
    • About ⅓ of people in the hospital with the coronavirus are 20-44-year-olds
    • About 10% of infants are getting very sick from the virus
  • The Chinese population has genetic differences with Europeans and Americans, and the virus is affecting each group differently
    • Pathogens also behave differently depending on a person’s blood type
  • The worst is yet to come: “We’re not even at the peak yet and another 2 weeks of this is going to continue to go up” Peter Hotez
    • California and Texas will peak around May
      • Hopefully things will bottom out by June
  • The best thing we can do right now is social distancing–especially if you live in a city
    • “Social distancing is absolutely paramount” – Peter Hotez
      • And try to stay healthy: “Keeping yourself healthy could make the difference between life or death”
        • Don’t smoke, vape, stay fit, limit alcohol intake

Intro

How Serious Is COVID-19?

  • The coronavirus is about 5-10x more lethal than the regular seasonal flu
    • The seasonal flu kills 12-50K people every year
    • It’s estimated that COVID-19 will kill between 50-500K Americans, Peter believes the number will be closer to 84K
      • Getting the flu vaccine will help weaken the impact of the flu if you contract it 
  • One major problem with the coronavirus is that people can spread it to others before they even see symptoms of the virus
  • About ⅓ of people in the hospital with the coronavirus are 20-44-year-olds
    • About 10% of infants are getting very sick from the virus
  • There are genetic differences between the Chinese population, Europeans, and Americans, so the virus is affecting each group differently
    • Pathogens also behave differently depending on a person’s blood type
  • In Spain, there is a 10% mortality rate: Out of every 100 people diagnosed with the virus, 10 have died
    • The highest mortality rate in the US is in New Orleans–it has a 5% mortality rate
      • The New Orleans healthcare system is overwhelmed and a large part of the population has diabetes and hypertension
        • Additionally, smoking cigarettes increases the impact of coronavirus on your body
  • The coronavirus is causing lung and heart disease
    • The virus causes a large amount of inflammation in the lungs, and there are some reports saying the virus enters the heart and can potentially enter the intestinal tract  

Possible Treatments

  • Chloroquine is used as an anti-malaria drug, it also reduces inflammation
    • There have been some positive results from combining chloroquine with Zithromax Z-Pak but Peter warns that “I think we have to be really careful and don’t be too quick to say okay this is going to be it” – Peter Hotez
      • We also don’t know what is the optimal dosage for making it an effective treatment
        • “The hardest thing to do is to accelerate new technologies for a new virus pathogen…while the epidemic is raging”
  • It took 5 years to create a vaccine for ebola 
    • If a vaccine for the coronavirus is created, it probably won’t be used this year but for 2021 and later years
  • Scientists are also looking into steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs as  possible treatments
  • The best thing we can do right now is social distancing–especially if you live in a city
    • “Social distancing is absolutely paramount” – Peter Hotez
      • And try to stay healthy: “Keeping yourself healthy could make the difference between life or death”
        • Don’t smoke, vape, stay fit, limit alcohol intake

Testing & Infrastructure Problems

  • The testing method for coronavirus isn’t perfect: “Diagnosing respiratory virus pathogens is not easy, it takes a lot of time to do the quality control and really figure out all the testing” Peter Hotez
  • “We don’t have the infrastructure in place we need to rapidly accelerate vaccines because…it’s a fragmented infrastructure and we’re always scrambling for funds” – Peter Hotez

 Will This Be Over By Easter?

  • No, the worst is yet to come: “We’re not even at the peak yet and another 2 weeks of this is going to continue to go up” Peter Hotez
    • California and Texas will peak around May
  • Hopefully things will bottom out by June
    • “We also don’t know if this thing’s coming back…even if it goes down this summer, does it come back up again in the fall?” Peter Hotez
      • It’s possible that the coronavirus is seasonal, as temperature and humidity rise, the cases will fall

Additional Notes

  • This is the 3rd major coronavirus situation of the 21st century
    • SARS in 2003 
    • MERS in 2012 
    • COVID-19 in 2019
      • However, this is a completely new virus and the best thing one can do is to keep an eye on updates and advice from accurate sources
  • More of the G20 countries need to step up to help fund global health technologies, the world can’t rely solely on the US and European Union
  • We need to figure out a way to get Republicans and Democrats to talk and work together to pass health legislature to make sure the country is prepared for future epidemics 
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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