Masks are Back in Fashion
Do I ever get tired of being right? I do not.
Today the mayors of Los Angeles and New York City recommended that everyone wear “face coverings” in public if they’re likely to pass within six feet of anyone. Bandannas, scarves, or even—gasp!—masks. (Though they’re still holding the word “mask” at arm’s length, as if it were a dead rat. Sissies.)
European countries, too, are starting to figure out that China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and so on were right all along to wear masks during epidemics. The Czech Republic went first, mandating some kind of face covering in mid-March. They were followed by Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Austria now requires that you wear something in grocery stores.
This is a good idea. Going into a grocery store where people are wandering around unmasked gives me the willies. And the poor checkout clerks, breathing in everyone else’s germs all day! And maybe returning the favor for a few days after they’ve caught the disease but before they feel sick. That’s called being a “pre-symptomatic carrier.”
Survey of How Front-Line Doctors Actually Treat COVID-19
Wouldn’t it be nice if we heard from a whole bunch of actual doctors who were treating actual coronavirus patients? Not the talking heads we see on TV? Now we can. An anonymous survey of 6,227 physicians in 30 countries was asked questions about:
- State of the Pandemic in their regions.
- Resource needs.
- Experiences treating COVID-19 patients.
- Impacts: effect of triaging and shortages.
This represents the experiences of practicing physicians as they grapple with COVID-19 any way they can.
Here are some highlights in no particular order. You might want to read the whole presentation, too:
Hydrochloroquine (an Anti-Viral Drug)
- Hydroxychloroquine is already widely prescribed. It has been prescribed by 72% of respondents in Spain, 49% in Italy, 41% in Brazil, 39% in Mexico, 28% in France, 23% in US, 17% in Germany, 16% in Canada, 13% in UK and 7% in Japan.
- Effective. Overall, it was chosen as the most effective COVID-19 therapy. Azithromycin and similar antibiotics were #2.
- Prescribed on spec. 17% of doctors have prescribed it or seen it prescribed for patients with severe symptoms but no test results yet. 16% have prescribed it for patients with mild symptoms but no test results yet.
- It’s for prevention, too. 19% of the respondants had prescribed it , or seen others prescribe it, to prevent COVID-19 infections for high-risk patients and 8% for low-risk patients.
Testing for Coronavirus
- Tests in the US average 4-5 days before results come back, with 10% taking more than a week.
- In Europe and Japan, 50% of the results come back within 24 hours. In China, 73% come back within 24 hours and 8% come back within an hour.
Effectiveness of Official Response
What do doctors think of their national, regional, and local governmental actions? If we add “not at all effective” and “slightly effective” responses, the thumbs-down level is as follows (smaller is better):
- New York: 38%
- US as a whole: 34%
- Italy and Spain: 29%
- Europe as a whole: 25%
- China: 2%
- Rest of World: 38%
So of the named areas, the US self-reports as having the worst official response to the crisis. I suspect this means that we’re not living up to our doctor’s expectations more than it means that we’re literally doing worse than Spain and Italy right now.
- Personal protective equipment (masks, gloves gowns, eye shields).
- Testing kits.
You probably guessed this as well. This is why I’m so adamant that we need to produce our way out of this disaster. We can’t treat people properly if this stuff isn’t plentiful.
In my opinion, our goal should be maximum overproduction. We don’t really know how much we need, so we need to make as much as we possibly can, and then some.
“But what if we make too much?” Fat chance. We should be so lucky! But if we do, it can become our new stockpile. against next time.
And you noticed that doctors are prescribing hydrochloroquine on spec and as a preventative. After all, it’s a drug that was introduced in 1955 and is taken by millions of people, sometimes for decades on end. Not only for malaria prevention, but to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Have you noticed that our stuffed shirts in Washington, D.C. can’t even grasp the concept of plentiful masks and improved prevention and treatment? To them, the future is just like today, but with a taller stack of bodies. I think we should replace them. Doesn’t matter who. We can draw names out of a hat or something. It’s sure to be a big improvement.