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Defeating Covid-19 Is Convalescent Serum our Best Chance?

Covid-19, the disease manifestation of the 2019 Novel Corona Virus, has demonstrated many unique characteristics, some of which may be contributing to what appears to be irrational level of hysteria. 

First, let's review the rationality of the current hysteria. Yesterday, March 13th, 2020 every major school district in and around Austin TX, closed. By this morning most major grocery stores were overrun with patrons hoarding supplies of food, disinfectant, and water. At my local HEB (Texans will recognize that - others can google it) at 6:30 am - the parking lot was full, and the checkout line wound around the entire store. Wait time in line to check out - for those lucky enough to have filled their baskets - was over two hours. There is no event in my lifetime that has created this level of hysteria, and that includes the assassination of JFK, 911, and numerous Hurricanes, Floods, and Blizzards. We are certainly living in historic times.

And the cause of this hysteria?

About 35 reported cases of Covid-19 in Texas. None within 100 miles of Austin. Yes, people - this is irrational.

Yet, there are troubling and mysterious things about Covid-19. The mortality rate is uncertain, but evidence suggests that it's somewhat higher than seasonal flu, which is about 0.1%. Currently in South Korea the mortality rate is running at about 0.8%, while in Italy the mortality rate is currently 6.81%. There are numerous possible reasons for the disparity. Perhaps the most glaring is the bias toward only confirming the virus in the most severely sick people - therefore skewing the mortality rate to the high end.

Still, there are other unusual characteristics of Covid-19.

-It seems to rarely infect very young people.

-There seems to be a large percentage of health care workers that have become seriously ill with Covid-19.

-It appears to not be limited to respiratory infection with evidence of both intestinal and cardio infection.

The above characteristics were described by Dr. Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D, Dean - Baylor College of Medicine in discussion with Dr. Peter Attia on March 13th, 2020. The discussion is available at for those who can stand to listen to real information rather than media driven hysteria. These unique characteristics support treating this virus as more than a severe seasonal flu.

Dr. Hotez suggested that a "Convalescent Serum" be developed and used both as treatment and preventatively against Covid-19. A "Convalescent Serum" is a serum derived from the anti-bodies of people who have recovered from Covid-19. Diagramatically, the process looks like this:

The technology and process for developing such a serum is established and mature. In some respects, it may even be considered "antiquated" - but it may be the best alternative we have. The concept is more formally described here : in an article by Arturo Casadevall and Liise-anne Pirofski. 

Perhaps most importantly, this is exactly the kind of thing for which President Trump is famous. That is, finding and organizing the best people at applying known technologies to solve current problems - and doing it quickly.  Trump could quickly identify and mobilize a team to fast-track a Convalescent Serum that would almost certainly aid in protecting Health Care providers and others at risk, and be distributed on a prioritized basis as it became more available. 

In any event, it would be much more valuable to the Nation's morale than waiting in line for toilet paper to run out.