Australia lab may have found Covid-19 cure Queensland University to launch human trials of two-drug treatment that has apparently cured virus-infected patients

Stanford University School of Medicine reported on Friday that a former  malaria treatment known as chloroquine may have been effective in treating the disease in China and Singapore.

There is also anecdotal evidence that the redundant AIDS drug remdesivir may have worked in treating patients in China, the initial epicenter of the now global pandemic. )

SYDNEY – Australian researchers have been given the green light to start human trials of a promising drug treatment for the novel coronavirus after raising funds from donors in a remarkable global appeal. 

Covid-19 patients will be given two drugs previously used to treat AIDS and malaria at about 50 hospitals in Australia, with tests expected to start by the end of this month. The drugs reportedly eradicated the virus in lab tests.

“There have already been patients treated with these in Australia and there’s been successful outcomes, but it hasn’t been done in a controlled or comparative way,” said David Paterson, director of the Center for Clinical Research at Queensland University, which is leading the trials.

“What we want to do at the moment is a large clinical trial across Australia, looking at 50 hospitals, and what we’re going to compare is one drug versus another drug, versus the combination of the two drugs,” he said.

Stanford University School of Medicine reported on Friday that a former  malaria treatment known as chloroquine may have been effective in treating the disease in China and Singapore.

There is also anecdotal evidence that the redundant AIDS drug remdesivir may have worked in treating patients in China, the initial epicenter of the now global pandemic.

Trial data of the drug’s use, however, has not been made available by China. Scientists have dismissed a widely quoted online report that about 12,000 patients have been completely cured of Covid-19 in China after taking chloroquine.

Paterson said laboratory tests using a combination of the two drugs had indicated that they might provide a “cure” from the virus.

“It’s a potentially effective treatment. Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of therapy,” he said.

The March 18 decision to go ahead with the human tests was only made after the researchers made an extraordinary global appeal for donations to cover the funding cost, estimated at A$750,000 (US$451,415).

There is an urgent push to develop effective Covid-19 treatments because a vaccine for widespread use is not expected to be developed for at least 18 months.

More than 30 academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies are collaborating in the search for a vaccine under a program coordinated by the Oslo-based non-profit group the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness.

Labs in Australia, the US and the United Kingdom are already testing the first batches of vaccine “candidates” on animals, using some “prototype” pathogen platforms that were developed for severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) outbreaks in 2002-04 and 2012.

However, they were ultimately not needed to treat those diseases.

The Seattle-based Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute began human trials of a possible vaccine on March 16, and two other research programs, at the University of Queensland and Imperial College London, expect to start trials on patients within weeks.

Three or four potential vaccines will be developed, with the most promising version to be chosen for distribution. 

Research efforts received a boost on March 17 when Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity announced it had succeeded in mapping how the body’s immune system fights back against the virus.

Published in the monthly peer-reviewed Nature Medicine journal, the research revealed that victims are recovering from the illness in the same way they would from the flu.

“This [discovery] is important because it is the first time where we are really understanding how our immune system fights novel coronavirus,”  said Katherine Kedzierska, who co-authored the journal article.

The team tracked the recovery of a 47-year-old woman from Wuhan, the original hotspot of the virus in China, who had mild-to-moderate symptoms from the virus and had no pre-existing health issues. She was admitted to a hospital in Australia and fully recovered within two weeks.

Kedzierska said that specific cells identified with influenza patients were spotted in her bloodstream three days before her health began to improve.

“We found in this patient at three days we could see emergence of immune cells in the blood. The immune cell populations we have seen emerging before patients recover are the same cells we see in influenza.

“Based on our experience with patients with influenza, we could predict recovery and that’s exactly what happened in Covid-19,” she said.

“This information will allow us to evaluate any vaccine candidate, as in an ideal world the vaccine should mimic our body’s immune response.”

Researchers are keen to isolate immune responses because these were a key factor in fighting SARS. Having blood markers will enable hospitals to screen out the 20% of patients who present with more severe symptoms.

“Then you could say upfront, this would be a severe case, or this will probably be a milder case,” said Doherty researcher Carolien van de Sandt. “Then you could alter their care to what the patient might need.”

The center has been given additional funding, some contributed by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, to expand the immune mapping to a bigger pool of patients, in part to monitor later phases of the recovery process.

“We know we can generate immune responses to the virus,” Kedzierska said. “The next question is whether that immune response gives people immunity for weeks or months or years so we are protected.”

The study’s findings are being shared with other research laboratories, she said.

Michael Mann, Lose it’s over Australia Bushfires?

Leading Climate Alarmist Freaks Out over Australia Bushfires?

Michael Mann, arguably the world’s no. 1 climate alarmist, writes Wednesday that he is “watching climate change in action” while on holiday in Australia.

In a Guardian essay titled “Australia, your country is burning – dangerous climate change is here with you now,” Mann, best known for his debunked “hockey stick” graph showing unprecedented 20th-century global warming after centuries of supposed level temperatures, says he is witnessing the devastating effects of climate change “first hand

Mann writes that he took his family “to see the Great Barrier Reef – one of the great wonders of this planet – while we still can.”

“Subject to the twin assaults of warming-caused bleaching and ocean acidification, it will be gone in a matter of decades in the absence of a dramatic reduction in global carbon emissions,” Mann prophesies.

The Blue Mountains, as well, “another of Australia’s natural wonders,” Mann laments, “is now threatened by climate change.”

“I witnessed this firsthand,” he states.

Mann does not explain how it was possible for him to witness climate change “first hand,” which would be difficult to do, since by definition climate change — unlike weather — takes place over long periods of time.

Instead of “vast expanses of rainforest framed by distant blue-tinged mountain ranges,” Mann looked out into “smoke-filled valleys, with only the faintest ghosts of distant ridges and peaks in the background.”

“The locals, whom I found to be friendly and outgoing, would volunteer that they have never seen anything like this before. Some even uttered the words ‘climate change’ without any prompting,” Mann declares, as apparent proof that he was witnessing climate change “first hand.”

Mann goes on to make proclamations that only a publication as ideologically compromised as the Guardian would think to publish.

“The brown skies I observed in the Blue Mountains this week are a product of human-caused climate change,” Mann states.

“The warming of our planet – and the changes in climate associated with it – are due to the fossil fuels we’re burning: oil, whether at midnight or any other hour of the day, natural gas, and the biggest culprit of all, coal,” he declares.