The Daily Dose: Promising remdesivir results; Our oceans still need saving

Sign up for Scientific Inquirer’s Steady State Newsletter for the week’s top stories, exclusive interviews, and weekly giveaways. Plenty of value added but without the tax.

The results of one of the critical clinical trials for the drug remdesivir are in and the news is definitely promising. According to FierceBiotech, it was effective against the novel coronavirus, especially when incorporated into therapy during the early stages of disease. “Gilead said that more than half of patients in both treatment groups were discharged from the hospital by two weeks, and at Day 14, 64.5% (129 out of 200) of patients in the five-day treatment group and 53.8% (10 out of 197) of patients in the 10-day treatment group ‘achieved clinical recovery.’ These clinical outcomes, however, varied by geography. Outside of Italy, one of the worst affected countries in terms of mortality, the overall death rate at Day 14 was 7% (23 out of 320) across both treatment groups, with 64% (205/320) of patients experiencing clinical improvement at Day 14 and 61% (196/320) of patients discharged from the hospital.” Rather than being a cure-all, remdesivir represents one tool in the broader toolbox needed to treat COVID-19.

The U.S. National Institute of Health has increased its active role in the development of COVID-19 diagnostics, this time as matchmaker. As per STAT, “The agency said the effort relies on a ‘national Covid-19 testing challenge’ in which scientists and inventors developing coronavirus tests across the country will compete for a share of a $500 million pool earmarked for diagnostic development. Successful entrants will eventually be paired with manufacturers and business experts who can help to quickly scale up production of any tests developed during the project.”

While the world is still knee-deep in the coronavirus pandemic, it’s helpful (and nice) to start considering what conditions will lead to the end of the outbreak. An article in Scientific American takes a stab at playing fortune teller. “Projections about how COVID-19 will play out are speculative, but the end game will most likely involve a mix of everything that checked past pandemics: Continued social-control measures to buy time, new antiviral medications to ease symptoms, and a vaccine. The exact formula—how long control measures such as social distancing must stay in place, for instance—depends in large part on how strictly people obey restrictions and how effectively governments respond.”

During a global pandemic it’s easy to forget that there are other, non-COVID-19 issues that still need to be addressed. Unfortunately, not thinking about things doesn’t make them disappear. The conditions facing the planet, in this case saving the oceans from pollution and other man-made challenges threatening irreversible harm. As per a commentary in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Although improved management and conservation have helped to reduce threats and restore some key ecosystems, the basic benefits that people receive from a healthy ocean are in overall decline (3). If left unchecked, a growing and resource-hungry human population will add additional pressures on the ocean. Scientific research, experimentation, data collection, monitoring, and modeling provide the knowledge, frameworks, and evidence needed to model and explore the environmental consequences of policy and development proposals and thus to chart a sustainable future ocean.

We like to be forward-looking here at the Scientific Inquirer. That’s why we’re loving the idea put forward in a Science Robotics study that proposes a wireless biofuel-powered soft electronic skin. “Here, we report a flexible and fully perspiration-powered integrated electronic skin (PPES) for multiplexed metabolic sensing in situ. The battery-free e-skin contains multimodal sensors and highly efficient lactate biofuel cells that use a unique integration of zero- to three-dimensional nanomaterials to achieve high power intensity and long-term stability.” As anybody who has dealt with electronics knows, wires are the devil. The same holds true for electronic skin. Going wireless can be liberating.


IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

Words matter. Images matter. The Scientific Inquirer needs your support. Help us pay our contributors for their hard work. Visit our Patreon page and discover ways that you can make a difference.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: