This past month I’ve been thinking… a lot. And the conclusions I got (and lots of others got too) are pretty solid. Here’s what I found out:
- Governments are ill-prepared and can’t handle diseases at scale. (See this)
- And most of them don’t learn from the errors of others. (See this)
- Pharmaceutical companies can’t do it either because their whole operational flow is based on selling and distributing well-tested, thoroughly studied drugs and vaccines.
- Labs (including university Labs) are better as they move at a faster pace - yet most of the machinery they use and how it’s setup is for the development and study of drugs and vaccines on a longer timeframe.
- Startups are great and there is alot of good people willing to help but the lack of real resources behind them makes it infeasible.
- each startup will need to get a fully stuffed lab for what we are going to do.
Some of these groups can be of great help (like labs) but they are not fit for the speed required in situations like the one we are in.
All of this make it unfeasible to allow the groups in power to manage our response to zoonotic diseases (or zoonosis), infectious developed agents or anything in between.
At the moment there is NO real cure for virus-borne illnesses, I can hear people saying yes there is, we have antivirals and vaccines. Current antivirals fall short in every single sense as for what medication goes.
It is especially important to start doing this now because these types of illnesses are happening in waves. And the fact is the elapsed amount of time between the previous wave and a new one is shortening.
As you can see in this image, it’s fairly clear we are having more instances of different
The idea here is not to sound alarmist nor try and predict the future. It’s a statement on facts.
We have a higher risk of getting zoonotic illnesses because we are growing in population and land-usage is changing. We are getting more and more into the animal kingdom in places they used to remain undisturbed. So the chances of more illnesses are higher.
The idea here is to create an organization similar to what OpenAI is for AI but for vaccine development and virus eradication interbreed with what a squat of SEALS is to critical operations - applied to response into new illnesses with unknown epidemiology and no (known) cure. Maybe it’s better to picture it as an ideallistic Xerox Park in the sense we will be looking to work on homeruns and not get concerned on the misses.
I’m not jumping on this pursuit because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Obviously, the outbreak brought me (and many others!) to a halt and made me decide it’s time to do something. The principal reason is, I’ve been developing a better treatment for herpes simplex type 1 for about 1.5 yrs. It’s still in the early stages of testing but with promising results: all tested people have killed the manifestations of the virus in the form of blisters on the first day as opposed to the control group (no treatment). Next phase is a bigger sampler and comparing it to the treatment of choice (acyclovir).
Herpes simplex is a retrovirus (and present in ~50% of the world’s population)so it’s not something you can get rid off, you get rid of the sudden manifestations in the form of blisters (e.g. HIV/AIDS is also a retrovirus). But…
Coming back to the point.
What we are going to do is based on 4 pilars and we are going to need to invent, reinvent and repurpose a lot of stuff.
- First thing to figure out is to create a human immunity system model which can be used to develop antigens to different diseases. Obviously the first one to work on is COVID-19 (COV-SARS-2) applications.
- Find a better way to cultivate viruses than the egg technique, cell perfusion or similar.
- Develop (effective) antivirals similar in effect to antibiotics. Antivirals are almost inexistent, the closes thing we have are prophylactic antivirals which don’t have quite the effect antibiotics have.
- Create a new way to make and distribute drugs/vaccines which can cater to every person in this world.
Beware this is a fairly clear plan but we will operate as startup in the sense that we are going to figure stuff as we go on and can’t guarantee the order in which we will solve the above.
Seeing how the response to the pandemic has been so far, it’s clear we need speed. (e.g. Development of vaccines through research groups has been “fast” but we are still looking to a 6 to 9 months timeline.) That’s what we want to solve with (4). This however only highlights a bigger problem, unpreparedness to cope with virus-based diseases. Especially if those have a high R0 (reproductive factor).
As of now the current plan goes as this:
- Design a cheap ventilator from repurposed materials. The first design is almost ready to be pushed to the community and get help/suggestions, improvements and “mutations”. —> Scroll to Edit #1
- Move on to work on the 4 pilars.
If you find this interesting, share it, introduce me to someone who I should meet, send us some love or fund the project. Specifically:
We will need two things:
- Connections to brilliant people who want to be involved - including inventors, advisors, professors, students, government officials, people who want to get involved and everyone in between.
- Quite a lot of funding for this - yet there is no time for going fundraise at the moment. So if you can connect us with someone who is interested on this let us know.
Contact details are isaac [at] mammbo [dot] com
Current plan has morphed. There is more work to be done now (and which we can contribute to) than expected. Here is the updated plan: 1. Create and gather working plans and proposals which are actionable and ready to be used and put them in trial. (It includes the cheap ventilator not based on an Ambu bag (there is going to be a shortage of those) as we felt this was very restricting and narrow). If you can help go to the document and help there. [[Document link](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iRFKkw60DDsK-v5piZ8AqVIevCfzSYDrHV-9gMb-d2I/edit?usp=sharing)] 2. Move on to work on the 4 pilars listed above.
[Edit #2]``` Labs and researchers are moving at an incredible speed right now. It seems they were already but since researchers and labs like to keep quiet until they find something meaningful the “lack” of apparent activity was nonetheless the “real activity” taking place.
** Thanks to everyone who read earlier versions of this post.