Black Slip Wasp on Ivy flower, Conamara
At the beginning of the 20th century large numbers of children and elderly succumbed to diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria and pneumonia. Microbiologists had little understanding about how diseases were spread, or how they could be controlled, so epidemics flourished. The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19, probably originating in returning US armed forces military camps, caused c. 50 million deaths worldwide, greater than deaths incurred in World War One. Diarroheal disease was common from drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated food.
Microbiological research concentrated on developing antibiotics and vaccines to protect populations from infectious disease. Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin saved millions of lives. Vaccines against diphtheria and pneumonia dramatically reduced the number of childhood deaths from these diseases. Children are routinely vaccinated against common viral diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella and polio. Smallpox, due to systematic vaccination is now officially extinct from the planet. A vaccine for HIV Aids infecting c. 33.3 million is now undergoing clinical trials.
There are 1.4 million viruses that are well capable of killing mankind. The sudden appearance of Marburg virus in West Africa summer 2021 is worth researching reference: Marburg University, Ugandan Green Monkeys, 1967. https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/196/Supplement_2/S131/858753
Successful vaccines are now complemented by antiviral medicines, despite no vaccines for viral diseases for Aids or hepatitis C. Both theses diseases are well managed with powerful antiviral drugs in the case of Aids antiretroviral drugs ensures it is no longer a killer allowing people to live long lives. In the case of hepatitis C the antiviral drugs clear the body of a virus causing severe disease.
Can an antiviral drug counter Covid-19. Remdesivir, owned by Gilead a pharmaceutical company was developed to treat hepatitis C and Ebola virus. Clinical trials revealed Covid-19 patients recovered by 5 days however it had no effect on the death rate due to Covid-19, it must be administered by injection which is inconvenient. Molnupiravir is owned by Merck, like Remdesivir prevents the virus from copying itself. Molnupiravir was first tested on influenza, Ebola which like SARS-Co-V-2 is an RNA virus and secured promising results against Covid-19. in clinical trials, Molnupiravir reduced death and hospitalisations from Covid-19 by about 50% for newly diagnosed, high risk patients. The European Medicines Agency commenced a review of Molnupiravir evaluating its safety and effectiveness. Molnupiravir, is under the auspices of the United Nations, due to be manufactured in low to middle income countries because the $700 per patient cost would not be within reach of many countries. Ivermectin, discovered by Merck, Irish employee William Campbell, was developed to treat worm infection, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2015. Clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in Covid-19 are underway. Molnupiravir can be administered by tablet, if taken orally it might prevent Covid-19 from developing and could work against the common cold. Paxlovid, Pfizer, with a protease inhibitor in tablet form can significantly reduce hospital admissions from Covid-19 and may be manufactured in Ringnaskiddy, Cork, Ireland
on EMA/FDA approval. Ritonavir, from Gilead, may be used with Paxlovid to reduce its deterioration in the body.
It is likely that antiviral drugs will have an important role in treating Covid-19. Compound EP67, an immune enhancer, currently undergoing clinical trials may revolutionise flu treatments along with removing threats of Pandemic flu such as Swine flu and Bird flu
Source: Now it is time for Plan B, Prof. Luke O'Neill, Sunday Independent, 31, October, 2021; Sanderson, S., et al. Innate Immune Induction and Influenza Protection elicited by a Response-Selective Agonist of Human C5a (Complement). (2012. PLOS One.; Microbes Lethal to Mankind, Lulu, Michael Manning, 2013