Consulo Indicium - 3/12/20

Information for your Consideration…

Greetings – Rather than the usual American handshake or the Middle Eastern/South European hug or the double (even triple) kiss on the cheek, there are some new greetings to consider.  In case you missed it, there is the Elbow Bump (touching one another’s elbows), the Wuhan Shuffle (touching your shoe-covered toes together) or the Fist Bump (exactly what it says). Try it.  You’ll be hip! 

Humor Amid A Pandemic – Sometimes when events turn very serious, humor can be a stress reliever.  So, when I received this meme on Twitter, I felt compelled to forward it for those who may not have received it.  It was a simple message that said:

“TEXAS CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION – Wash your hands like you just got done slicing jalapenos for a batch of nachos and you need to take your contacts out. (That’s like 20 seconds of scrubbing, y’all)”  It’s OK to smile or even laugh out loud…

Hope On The Horizon – But, while much of the medical community is shaking its head at the management of the crisis, there is some hope on the horizon. On March 6th, President Trump signed into law a major supplemental appropriations bill which allocates $8.3 billion for the Covid-19 pandemic fight at the local, state, national, and international levels. In addition, the legislation included an important waiver giving authority to the Secretary Azar of Health and Human Services to waive on a temporary basis the Medicare telehealth requirements to assist in managing the Covid-19 crisis by paying for services provided on a virtual basis. The waiver will make it possible for Medicare recipients to receive telehealth care from their homes and through use of mobile devices. The waiver provides a dramatic shift in policy and removes many of the obstacles which many of us have been complaining about for some time. The one limitation is that the waiver will apply to services provided by providers only if they have cared for the beneficiary at least once in the last three years. No doubt, many will be following the results of the waiver closely with the interpretations on the outcomes driving these changes either forward or into reverse following the pandemic.  I suspect we will see a move to move forward even more rapidly.  In fact, the Covid-19 crisis has probably done more to change the future of care delivery than virtually any other event over the last couple of decades. 

In Case You’re Interested – I heard a statistic the other day that I found troubling – in large measure, because it sounded incorrect.  And, I was right.  The statement made was that “…in the whole of Congress, there are only two humans with degrees in science or technology.”  My response was: What?  So, I looked it up.  Here are the results from Wikipedia under the category of Occupational Background of Congressional Members:

  • 24 members were health care professionals with 16 as medical doctors (14 Representatives and two Senators) distributed among the following specialties: family medicine (Reps. Vic Snyder, John Fleming, Paul Brown, Donna Christian-Christensen), Psychiatry (Rep. Jim McDermott), Ob/Gyn (Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Ron Paul, Phil Roe and Phil Gingrey), Allergy (Rep. Steve Kagan), Gastroenterology (Rep. Bill Cassidy), Cardiovascular Surgery (Rep. Charles Boustany), Radiation Oncology (Rep. Parker Griffith), Orthopedics (Sen. John Barrasso and Rep Tom Price).
  • Three Nurses (Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, Lois Capps and Eddie Bernice Johnson)
  • Two Dentists (Reps. John Linder and Mike Simpson)
  • Two Veterinarians (Rep. Kurt Schrader and Sen. John Ensign)
  • One Psychologist (Rep. Brian Baird),
  • One Optometrist (Rep. John Boozman)
  • One Dietician (Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper); and,
  • One Pharmacist (Rep. Robert Marion Berry).

Beyond the medical side, there are also the following:

  • Five Engineers (Rep. Joe Barton, Cliff Stearns, Pete Stark)
  • Six Scientists listed as: Three Physicists (Rep. Rush Holt, Bill Foster, and Vern Ehlers), a Chemist (Rep. Ed Pastor), a Microbiologist (Rep. Louise Slaughter; and, a Physiologist (Rep. Roscoe Bartlett). 

There is also an astronaut, an aviator, a battle group commander, West Point instructors, a pilot of Marine One and probably a few others that I may have missed.  So, the message to all of the science-based political leaders is: STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND PROVIDE SOME SCIENTIFIC LEADERSHIP!! 

CountMeIn – I just learned about this wonderful initiative and thought that we need to share widely.  CountMeIn is a website where people who have cancer can sign up to participate in cutting edge research. It’s a nonprofit organization. The mission statement states that it’s “pursuing a new approach to cancer research – bringing patients and researchers together as partners to accelerate discoveries.”  In essence, the website allows individual patients to become involved in various breakthrough cancer research project so that biomedical research can occur at a quickened pace. It’s a new way of empowering people to help others that may help themselves as well. 

The Missing Vaccine – One of the big issues we are facing in the task of preventing further spread of the Covid-19 virus is the lack of a vaccine.  Anthony Fauci, MD – probably the most sensible leader on the President’s Task Force – has noted that it will take upwards of eight months before a vaccine is available. However, researchers at Moderna Therapeutics have pursued a very new and innovative model for creating a vaccine.  According to The Wall Street Journal they sent information on their approach to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Maryland on February 24th.  In addition, the company is evidently recruiting healthy volunteers to participate in a clinical trial for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine which they hope to begin in late April.  The approach is very different than traditional models.  Usually, pharmaceutical companies use “killed” or “weakened” virus as the template for creating a vaccine that attacks the virus.  In this case, the company used messenger RNA (mRNA) which they created in the lab.  The mRNA then encodes the details of the protein structure of the virus which can be used to build out the vaccine.  This approach is entirely new so, it is cutting edge.  The intent is to build a protein that essentially replicates the virus and can be used as a template for getting the individuals who receive the vaccine to create sufficient antibodies that target, attach and kill the virus in the body, thereby preventing the complications of the viral infection.  In essence, it’s creating artificial proteins that look like the virus so that the body is tricked into creating antibodies to the Covid-19.   By using the approach, Moderna has been able to fast-track the development process.  Why?  Because they did not have to go through the arduous process of isolating live samples of the Covid-19 virus and modifying them so that they could be used for creating a more traditional vaccine.  The description for the initiative is at Check it out…

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