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Coronavirus update: New global death rate and repurposing drugs

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 21:21:09-05

(WXYZ) — The World Health Organization says that the global death rate for COVID-19 is higher than previous estimates. And that it’s also deadlier than the flu.

Before everyone’s anxiety rises, let me just say that the fatality rates for COVID-19 will fluctuate and change over time. We do expect that to happen.

Now, the seasonal flu is estimated to kill less than 1 percent of people who get sick with it. While COVID-19 has been estimated by the World Health Organization to kill about 3.4 percent of people who get infected.

But remember these are global numbers. And they will change from country to country, even place to place.

Some areas will do much better than others because of the health care system that’s in place. Plus, Wuhan, China really skews these numbers as the death rate there is quite high. And on top of that, the estimate doesn’t include people with mild cases, only those who needed medical attention.

When you repurpose a drug, it means that an existing drug that’s used to fight one disease can be redeveloped or used to fight something else that it wasn’t initially intended for. And this is good because known drugs already have in place things like manufacturing processes and clinical development phases.

So you’re not starting from scratch and therefore more likely to get a drug to the market faster.

Now, a group of European-based scientists have looked closely at 119 antiviral agents that can target more than one virus. They’re called BSAAs – short for broad-spectrum antiviral agents. About a handful of them are potential candidates.

For instance, oritavancin, dalbavancin, and monensin are approved antibiotics that were effective in inhibiting corona and other viruses in a laboratory. So they could possibly be repurposed as antiviral agents to treat and prevent the novel coronavirus.

Areas in Seattle that rely on tourism are being impacted as fewer tourists are out shopping and visiting places like the famous Pike Place Market. It’s actually something we could see here if the virus comes our way.

While staying home likely won’t be good for the local economy, it’ll actually be very good in helping to prevent the spread of this virus. So as a friendly reminder, please take precautionary steps now.

Be very very vigilant about washing your hands. Cover your cough and please stay home if you’re sick.

If you suspect the coronavirus, call your family doctor or the local health department first before going anywhere to lessen exposure to others.