In my last post, I talked about how immunity might help us cope by giving us a cohort of immune folks to help society run — and possibly even donate their antibodies — until herd immunity happens.
In this post, I will talk about some other hopeful trends I see on the horizon.
One trend I see is that hacking culture + desperation are attacking the twin shortages of ventilators and PPE.¹ A lot of folks in many walks of life are working on ways to hack, kludge, and gerry-rig our way out of this mess.
Regarding masks, there’s a lot of effort going into “good-enough” solutions. Folks are sharing research showing that any facial covering is better than no facial covering. Folks are sewing masks at home, while others are 3-D printing face shields. People are even doing extremely sophisticated materials and aerosol research on their own dime, and then mass-disseminating information with their findings. For example, just yesterday an article came out that showed that certain shop towels might make very good homemade masks.²
Similarly, there’s other research going on to figure out ways to stretch current supplies of PPE. Commercial ovens may start being used to re-sterilize masks. Others are looking into using things like UV lamps for re-sterilization.
Regarding ventilators, some groups of people are trying to create gerry-rigged low-cost ventilators in various ways, such as re-purposing cpap machines.
Meanwhile, many many MANY medical researchers are working on trying to figure out how this disease operates, and how to fight it.³ While ventilators are necessary, they are also a last resort. By the time a patient gets to the point of needing a ventilator, they have a 50% chance of death. The best thing is to keep a patient from getting sick enough to need one.
Perhaps over the next few months, one treatment or a combination of different treatments will emerge, and these will allow more patients to avoid becoming critical. That would be amazing.
¹ Obviously, the shortages in both areas are nothing less than travesties, brought on by inept, incompetent and often downright malicious government choices. These are horrible and horrifying, and one hopes that in the not-too-distant future, there will be a severe and profound reckoning for everyone who got us into this mess.
² Of course, price gougers are already selling those same shop towels on Ebay for 5 times the usual price.
³ Here is just one article that’s been called “promising.” I can’t claim to understand it myself. But it shows that researchers are leaving no stone unturned to look at different mechanisms by which we can fight this thing.