Post #764: Virginia case counts, hydroxychloroquine

Posted on July 26, 2020

The new normal in Virginia seems to be 1000 cases per day, and stable low case counts in the “late-reopening” areas (NoVA+Richmond City+Accomack).

There was an apparent spike in cases yesterday, but this was a result of a backlog in reporting, not an actual one-day spike.

Below, blue = Virginia, orange = Fairfax County, updated to 7/26/2020.

Below, blue = late-reopening areas, orange = rest of state.  Apparent jump in new cases yesterday is an artifact of data reporting issues.


Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work on lung cells

And the (almost) final piece of the puzzle/nail in the coffin of hydroxychloroquine was published earlier this week.  It doesn’t protect human lung cells from COVID-19.  It protects other tissues, but not the lungs, as this detailed news article explains.

For those who were keeping score, randomized controlled controlled trials of this tended to show very close to no impact.  And “observational data” studies (just comparing people who were and were not given the drug by their physicians) gave hugely contradictory results.

In rare instances there’s still some effect worth nothing, but usually, when you see that combination, it means there’s no there, there.   And that’s the case for hydroxychloroquine.  The politicization of it didn’t help matters.  But the results are the same regardless if whether or not it was some sort of token of political faithfulness.

As I have emphasized here before, there were many good reasons for looking at this drug as a possible COVID-19 treatment.  (Long before the President mentioned it.)  The foremost of which is that it demonstrated strong anti-viral activity against COVID-19 “in vitro”, that is, in cultures of cells.  The last piece of the puzzle was explaining why this drug appeared to be so effective at suppressing COVID-19 infections “in vitro” but not in humans.    And the answer, per the study referenced above, is that it is effective in suppressing infection in kidney cells.  But not lung cells.

The only wild card remaining is whether hydroxychloroquine’s role as one of very few known zinc ionophores means that this drug, in combination with zinc supplements, might still be helpful.  This was explained back in Post #607.  The spectacular case reports at that time involved use of zinc supplements with hydroxychloroquine.

Source:  Wikipedia

If that’s true, then the role of the drug is not in suppressing COVID-19 directly, but in allowing zinc to pass into cells (“zinc ionophore”), where high zinc levels may suppress some aspect of COVID-19 reproduction.  But if that’s the case, then the key ingredient is the zinc, and any substance that acts to transport zinc through cells walls (e.g., quercetin) would service along with zinc supplements.