Best guess as to when the first successful COVID-19 therapy will be widely available?

I’m a big believer that viruses are smarter than human beings. We haven’t been able to do anything about the common cold (nearly 1 billion cases per year in the U.S.), despite the enormous economic rewards waiting for anyone who can come up with a real therapy. We have no treatment for SARS or MERS despite recognizing the terrifying potential of these diseases. Tamiflu doesn’t stop the flu from killing people.

A smart numbers-oriented friend points out, however, that we have a lot more clinical data regarding COVID-19 than we did for SARS (8,000 cases) and MERS (a handful). He believes that we’ll therefore be able to emerge from our suburban bunkers relatively soon and actually be treated for COVID-19 (as opposed to being parked on a ventilator so that we can die with 86% probability at a slightly later date).

Keeping in mind that it took months for coronavirus tests to be invented, approved, and manufactured (still not in sufficient quantities except for those who are hospitalized), what’s your best guess as to when you can go into the hospital ED, have the nurse shout out “COVID-19” and then an assistant comes in with some pills or a shot that will keep the symptoms down to some reasonable level of misery?

My guess: between July 2020 and March 2021, with October 2020 as the best single month guess.


11 thoughts on “Best guess as to when the first successful COVID-19 therapy will be widely available?

  1. Some of the fat and lung comprised will die and the rest will be cured, by virtue of not already being unhealthy. Medical cure, nope, modern medicine ain’t that good. Crappy dangerous rushed vaccine with ID tags, yup. Be interesting when they roll that out. If they go mandatory I think that will be the straw that gets folks mustering on the common in Lexington. Question no one ever answers: If vaccines are so good why do we care about someone being unvaxxed? The vaccinated are safe, my body my choice, right ladies?

    • Your last sentence is dangerous misunderstanding. Vaccines don’t work in 100% of people, plus there are classes of people that are more vulnerable, even vaccinated (e.g. old people, cancer patients, etc.). It is wholly irresponsible to go unvaccinated.

    • @Jarle if you think we are going to be injected with heavy metals and the cells of aborted children to possibly save the decrepit and old you are evil or idiotic. At risk people are free to self quarantine til their end.

    • Is this the same one which they use for malaria? If this works out, that would be awesome , as its cheap to manufacture and readily available.

  2. After reading Derek Lowe for a while, I’d definite choose your March-2021 date, or even later for something with actual clinical trials behind it. The upshot of much of Lowe’s writing is you really need to wait for the results – and the “result” is typically represented by a clinical failure rate of 90%.

    Lowe’s blog is highly recommended for an inside look at the drug discovery business.

  3. One thing is certain, the world economy won’t recover until SOME kind of treatment or vaccine is held by the public to be at least somewhat effective in dealing with the symptoms or inhibiting transmission.

    • Aren’t people under age 50 more or less invulnerable to this virus? A handful will be killed and make the headlines, but statistically a 30-year-old Silicon Valley coder has a far better chance of getting killed by a the driver of a new Tesla who is distracted while sending thoughts, prayers, and good vibes to the encamped homeless.

      Since companies don’t usually want workers over 50 anyway, why can’t the most significant portion of the world economy start right back up? Do we actually expect 20-year-olds to cower in bunkers for the rest of 2020 and into 2021?

    • Self-answering: Because the people making policy are designing it to protect the bulk of the electorate, the 50+.

      (I looked but can’t find a chart which shows TOTAL votes by age group. Only percentages, which then would have to be converted to number of voters by know how many are in the age group.)

  4. “The cold” is a name used for a group of about 200 coronaviruses, and it’s relatively trivial to make a vaccine for any one of them, given a couple of years and a lot of money. But nobody wants a vaccine that many be 50 percent effective against less than one percent of colds, which are not strips diseases to begin with, and a vaccine against 100 or 200 coronaviruses would be crazy expensive.

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