The move to convalescent plasma as a frontline treatment has been frustratingly slow. This was an obvious treatment choice (to me at least) back in March.
On the brighter side, we continue to see success stories that involve convalescent plasma. We’re also starting to get other antibody-based treatments that will likely scale a lot better. In the short-run where no vaccine is available, this represents are best chance I think at lowering the COVID-19 fatality rate and mitigating the symptoms of the virus.
If antibody-based treatment works sufficiently, we might even be able to treat COVID-19 as a chronic condition. Sure, the virus is out there and you may get it, but if you do, it either won’t be a big deal (true for most folks already) or if you have any complications, you can get some kind of antibody-based treatment that resolves the issues.
There’s strong anecdotal evidence that early treatment of COVID-19 equals better outcomes. Helpfully, it also makes logical sense that early treatment means attacking the virus when the viral load is lower. That such treatments would be more successful is intuitive. There’s no reason to expect that the science won’t back up this change of reasoning.
So the key bit for serious cases is early detection and treatment. Since testingâ€”an unpleasant experience which involves sticking a long stick up the noseâ€”has been both disastrously low in number and iffy in quality, early detection probably involves home use of a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels. Maybe we’ll get adequate testing in terms of number and quality, but we’ve not seen it yet in the United States. (Which again is why I’m so skeptical of test/trace/isolate here. My skepticism will lessen after I see it work.)
Regardless, none of this is as good as a vaccine. But a vaccine is not in the immediate offing, so we have to find ways to combat the virus in the meantime. Governments and governors can “reopen” all they want. If people don’t feel safe, they’re not going to the bar, airport, sports arenaâ€”at least not in sufficient numbers to make those businesses viable.
Interestingly, a number of states doing significant reopening right now have no business doing so. If you want to know who is blowing it, just look at the attached graph. (If you don’t want to do that, I’ll save you the trouble: Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas.) Other states have issues too, but at least they’re not throwing caution to the wind.