Viruses Don’t Kill, It’s The Bodies Response That Kills
Viruses – I’m not a scientist working in the medical field, but I’ve learned enough about the science to be in awe of what they do.
I’m sure my “cursory” explanation is woefully incomplete, but this is a blog, and I think this is a worthwhile discussion on the subject for us “Interested” participants in the covid19 world of 2020.
The human body is a very complex machine, and one of the processes that has evolved is the immune system. This is the bodies method of removing infections, and it does this my using specialist white blood cells to attack invasive objects, such as viruses.
The problem is that the process of killing a virus creates a number of new problems, such as temperature and the massive build-up of white blood cells in specific parts of the body. And it’s these side effects of the bodies response that are the symptoms that can cause very bad things to happen.
Drugs can be used to help the immune system react more slowly to an infection, and in some cases, this can help reduce some of the most dangerous symptoms, while still allowing the infection to be dealt with. At other times drugs can be used to increase the rate by which the immune system attacks an infection, which may also help, in some circumstances.
But for every positive effect, there is always some unwanted adverse effects.
In the 1960’s a drug was developed to help pregnant women by alleviating the effects of morning sickness. It worked, but had a terrible side effect, that left some new-born babies to be born with severely deformed arms. This drug side-effect was used to justify the need for a strict regimen of testing to be performed on drugs and medical devices before they can be used on humans.
Every drug now goes through a rigorous process of testing to confirm that for a specific use it provides a benefit, and that any adverse reaction is understood and tested against the desired benefit, and that also no unintended consequences on human health or the food chain are present.
This process is strictly regulated and takes around a decade (sometimes more to be completed). Many drugs don’t pass all the required tests; and are therefore not released. This provides a significant level of protection for humanity and frankly the whole global ecosystem. Most countries have their own variant of governance to protect their populations against the risks associated with drugs and medical devices, and this process is a significant cost for drug manufacturers, medical device manufacturers and bioscience companies.
Even when a drug is released, there is still a need to track it’s use, and to report and analyze every adverse event. This happens throughout the whole life of a drug.
If you look at the packaging of any medical product you will see instructions on how the drug must be used, and for what purposes, this control is critical so that the data collected can be used effectively.
Even the type of packaging used, the exact details on the factory that produced it, and details about how it was stored are tracked and recorded. If an adverse event is reported the exact nature of the drug use, manufacture and storage can be taken into consideration.
The database is of incredible value.
The 1960’s morning sickness drug I mentioned earlier was called Thalidomide. And many years later it was found that the adverse events recorded in the 1960’s would have a positive effect on patients with certain forms of multiple myeloma, a terrible blood cancer. When taken in specific doses Thalidomide was found to significantly reduce the spread of this disease and can extend the patient’s life by years. Unfortunately, there are side effects that mean patients can’t take it forever, but it is able to extend life. Using the database of existing adverse events was key in discovering this new use for a previously developed drug.
Today doctors and scientists are looking for drug combinations that may help save lives for patients with the covid19 variant of the coronavirus. By understanding the ways in which the immune system reacts to this disease they are able to then look through the massive database of previously recorded adverse events to try and find drugs that will help patients recover more quickly from the infection, and then add additional drugs to alleviate the further effects of those drugs. It’s an incredibly complex process. And they have to find ways to quickly identify the risks associated with these drug combinations and test it scientifically before it can be used.
Behind these doctors and scientists are IT teams ensuring that the datacenters used to do this analysis are working at peak performance.
And behind these IT teams are hardware and software companies looking to find innovative ways to help them do their jobs better.
We’re proud to be helping in this effort, and we know what long hours our customers are working right now to make this happen. We’re here for you.