For 40 years, Cuba has been using a molecule named Interferon Alpha 2B , which has successfully been used to combat the new Coonavirus in China and elsewhere.
“The world has an opportunity to understand that health is not a commercial asset but a basic right,” Cuban doctor Luis Herrera, the creator of the Interferon Alfa 2-B medication, one of the most successful medications in the fight against COVID-19 told teleSUR Tuesday.
Interferon has been known for more than 40 years: first, it was produced from original sources in local sites, then nationally and later in the United States and even Finland.
“At the beginning of the 80s, an important professor from Houston came to Cuba and advised our President Fidel Castro than the Interferon we had here was a very interesting molecule for a different purpose,” Herrera told teleSUR.
“Then a group of people went to Finland to get training in the production of interferon,” while people were also producing Interferon from recombined sources using genetic engineering.
The first one was Beta Interferon in Japan, and the second one was the family of Alpha Interferon by Genetec in California, according to the Cuban doctor.
“One year later in Cuba, we cloned different genes of Interferon from local sites, and we started to produce Interferon in 1981 and 1982, which we used in the outbreak of dengue fever, and we presented the results in the United States in California.”
One of the ways the virus can multiply inside the cells is by decreasing the levels of Interferon naturally produced in human cells. The molecule thus, through a different metabolic way, can create conditions to limit the replication of the virus.
During the MERS-CoV epidemic three years ago – another type of coronavirus – people realized that Interferon was decreased during the replication of the virus, highlighted Herrera.
In China, practically a few weeks after the beginning of the outbreak, people started to use Interferon in a way to avoid complications in people infected with the virus. According to Herrera, this molecule has “some side effects but not too critical.”
“The main idea of Interferon is just to avoid complications,” he told teleSUR. “Young people and people with a good immuno-response perhaps don’t need the medicine or people who won’t have complications and respond to the virus-like any other flu, but old people or people susceptible to have a bad immuno-response will have better chances of avoiding complications by using Interferon.”
He concluded that Cuba must participate in this solidarity movement with other nations, just “the same way other countries have had solidarity with Cuba, especially with Latin American and African countries.”
“We have more physicians working abroad than practically any other country in the world, not because we are exporting anything but simply because we want to participate in building a world with better health conditions and living conditions.”
There is no specific treatment for the disease caused by a new coronavirus.. Treatment is based on the patient’s symptoms and supportive care can be very effective. Specific therapies and vaccines are being studied.
However, both Korea and China have been treating infections with drugs known as Chloroquine (long known to treat malaria) or Kaletra (used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, contains lopinavir/ritonavir ).
The New York Times ran a major story of two 29 year old female Wuhan medical professionals, one who died, and one who lived. The one who lived was treated with Kaletra. The one who died was not treated with either chloroquine or Kaletra.
The New York Post has a similar story of a New Jersey healthcare worker who was on the verge of dying. He was only saved because Chinese family members reached out to doctors in Wuhan who told them to begin immediate treatment with either chloroquine or Kaletra.
He said “Fortunately I have the resources and knowledge about it. I would be dead and gone already. Most medical providers here don’t know about it. Medical providers need to communicate with Chinese medical teams.”
In the (now removed / archive) WHO public guidelines for coronavirus treatment published 13 March 2020, there is no mention of either chloroquine or Kaletra.
Instead the WHO guidelines state:
“There is no current evidence to recommend any specific anti-COVID-19 treatment for patients with confirmed COVID-19”
We find the same from the CDC in the USA. In the official CDC clinical guidance (archive) published on March 7, 2020 Chloroquine is only mentioned in an unrelated footnote and Kaletra is not mentioned at all. The CDC states:
“There are currently no antiviral drugs licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with COVID-19.”
Since three major countries (Italy, USA, Australia) appear to be following incorrect WHO treatment guidelines, it likely means that this is a problem in most other countries as well.
Why aren’t our usual medical channels getting this information themselves?
This is a problem from the top down. Western healthcare has already become very complex and government employees are risk averse. They are not used to situations where critical drug treatments need to be made available within a few weeks. China made it a national priority to solve the problem, so normal drug market approvals were waived. WHO was also very delayed² in declaring a pandemic. WHO also didn’t do a good job on the ebola outbreak.
In addition, WHO has been reported to spend³ more than $200M/year on travel expenses, more than it spends on fighting many major problems.
If Italy had the same treatment success rate as Korea, with only 0.91% of people dying instead of 7.3%, then there would be 227 deaths in Italy instead of 1809. 1582 more people would be alive now.
How many people will be dead when the next exponential waves of the virus hit worldwide?
In fact all these deaths aren’t the real problem
The real problem from this pandemic is that because the virus is so infectious, even though it is fairly mild for most people, a large number become severely ill and require hospitalization. This large number of severely ill people overwhelms the entire hospital system. The population is then forced into quarantine to slow down the rate of infections, which can lead to a total breakdown of society.
Using these treatment options, the majority of people will be kept out of hospital entirely. Both the Koreans and Chinese guidelines make it clear that people should be treated very early if the infection progresses beyond a mild case.
This is likely the reason the medical system in Italy is currently overwhelmed.
The most important thing you can do is make your local healthcare system and government aware of this problem. If you’re successful, you’ll save lives.
What if you get sick?
Korea is one of the countries with the most experience with the virus and their treatment has proven results.
If you get sick I suggest you closely study the official Korean medical guidelines (archive) and find a doctor that will treat you according to those guidelines. Don’t self-treat, as these are powerful drugs that have side effects and interactions with other drugs. You could easily overdose and die. Many people died of aspirin overdose during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic⁴. Only in an emergency would I use this information to treat myself (and I certainly would if I had no other choice).
In addition, it appears we now have 3 additional treatment options, giving us a total of 5 treatment choices depending on individual tolerances and availability.
You don’t need to get these drugs yourself. Chloroquine is readily available to your doctor and it is an inexpensive, off patent drug that has been used clinically since 1947. It can be easily produced in massive quantities even if there are temporary shortages⁵.
I used to work in Silicon Valley tech. I’m now interested in using Chinese philosophy to find truth in complex situations. I lived at Wudang Mountain, Hubei Province, China from 2014 to 2016. I did this research because my mother is in a high risk category in Australia.