Coronavirus Update: New Global Death Rate and Repurposing Drugs

Before anyone starts to panic, it’s important to note the fatality rates for COVID-19 will continue to fluctuate and change over time. So, the fact that the World Health Organization now says the global death rate is higher than the previous estimates is not unexpected. With a death rate now estimated at 3.4% worldwide, the WHOsays COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu, which has an estimated death rate at less than 1%. It’s also important to note these numbers are global. These numbers will vary from country to country – even place to place within countries. The epicenter of the outbreak also skews these numbers upwards because the death rate is quite high in Wuhan, China. This estimate also only includes patients requiring medical attention and doesn’t count people with mild cases, which also skews numbers upwards. 

Repurposing Medication

A group of European-bases scientists are looking at repurposing any number of 119 antiviral agents that are able to target more than one virus. These broad-spectrum antiviral agents (BSAAs) are potential candidates to be used to fight COVID-19. Repurposing drugs means we are able to modify an existing drug that we know is effective against one disease to fight something it wasn’t originally intended for. So, we are able to piggy-back on a drug that already has manufacturing in place and has been used in clinical trials. This means we’re more likely to get a drug to fight COVID-19 to the market faster than starting from scratch.

Coronavirus Affecting Daily Life

Seattle is already feeling the negative effects of the virus as many describe it as a ‘ghost town.’ Many areas, like the famous Pike Place Market, are feeling the hit of decreased tourism and shopping. If the virus heads for Michigan, we could see something very similar in our own state. Though the economy may take a hit if people hunker down at home, it would actually be better for public health to help keep the virus from spreading.

As always, I’m here to remind you to stay vigilant with your hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid touching your face, and cover your coughs and sneezes. Please stay home if you are sick. If you suspect you have the coronavirus, contact your healthcare provider or local health department before going out in public to lessen exposure to others.

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