It’s panic that turns advances into retreats

Fdr, Roosevelt, Memorial, President, Landmark, Monument
courtesy Pixabay free images

Regular readers of LSS have sometimes criticised us for taking a sunny, over-optimistic view on the possibilities of human progress. We have been accused of thinking like a nineteen sixties schoolboy, dazzled by new technologies like antibiotics, spaceflight and James Bond gadgets. Naively asserting that progress in one field will automatically lead to progress elsewhere. Blind to the fact that the mass of humankind are doltish ignoramuses, driven by greed and loathing. (And sex, as we shall see below). Today we offer two stories which offer evidence both against us and for us.

Superresistant gonorrhea: The case against LSS

Some years ago, some clever scientists developed a nice little antibiotic called azithromycin. It can be used in all sorts of cases, including respiratory illnesses, but was especially useful against the well known STI gonorrhea. During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, clinicians threw everything they could at patients with Covid-19, including azithromycin; it seemed to have some use with associated respiratory conditions. The trouble with mass prescription of antibiotics is that mass resistance soon develops. Meanwhile millions of people continued having sex (what happened to the lockdown restrictions?-ed) and now cases of super-resistant gonorrhea are shooting up. The whole sorry saga is admirably told by Natalie Rahhal in the Mail.

Super gonorrhea could be fueled by antibiotic use amid the pandemic | Daily Mail Online

RNA supervaccines-the case for LSS

The original discovery of the importance and structure of nucleic acids has unleashed a torrent of discovery and change in fields as diverse as genetic engineering and Forensic Science. Today Nuno Dominguez of El Pais details exciting new techniques developed by a team at the University of Pennsylvania in RNA vaccines. They have developed a tiny nanocapsule which will deliver their virus directly to the target tissue. Small modifications in RNA could allow a whole class of vaccines to counter 30 diseases including AIDS and flu -and may even let you synthesise your own monoclonal antibodies. It’s amazing stuff, but English speakers will need their translator.

Los pioneros del ARN ya investigan vacunas contra 30 infecciones diferentes | Ciencia | EL PAÍS (elpais.com)

So how long before the work of the second group is abused and wasted like azithromycin was? Why do we, as a species, shoot ourselves in the foot, as it were, time and time again? Are we truly doltish and ignorant, as asseverated above? Perhaps there is another answer, captured by Franklin D Roosevelt, that greatest of American Presidents, who on his inauguration in 1933 stated:

the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, the nameless unreasoning terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…”

#covid-19 #antibiotics #azithromycin #gonorrhea #rnavaccines #monoclonalantibodies

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