The cures for just about anything and everything abound all around us and always have, the natural world providing our remedies. Some 400,000 species of plants and close to a million kinds of insects have been identified. No one has any idea what the true number is however since places like the Amazon rainforest and the Siberian taiga are hardly the best explored locales on Earth. Still, about 40% of prescription medicines come from plant extracts or synthesized plant compounds and bioprospectors—those who search out new and useful compounds in nature—seem convinced that the insect phyla will provide astounding medicinal advances in the 21st century.
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek doctor who gave the world his oath, wrote in the 5th century BC that willow bark relieved pain and fever. The Arapaho, Chippewa, Huron, Mohawk and other tribes in North America also used willow bark as well to treat fevers, headaches, arthritis and other maladies. Willow bark contains acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin.
Penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic, was discovered accidentally, owing to the carelessness of Sir Alexander Fleming. He’d gone on a two week vacation, leaving a staphylococcus plate exposed in his laboratory, returning to find that a mold had developed on the culture which had quite obviously prevented the growth of the bacteria. Penicillin mold, a lowly fungus which grows readily on bread and fruit, was important enough to garner Dr. Fleming a Nobel Prize in 1945.
There must be uncounted therapies and cures yet undiscovered, hiding in plain view, still in store to join a list which contains tree bark and bread mold. To find them requires only what humankind fortunately has in unlimited supply—unbridled curiosity, stubborn determination, and the ferocious will to fight back against disease.
As the COVID-19 virus currently wreaks global havoc the world could be watching the latest counter-attack in Homo sapiens’ eons-long battle against our microscopic adversaries, and the heroes in the struggle are just as admirable as any Nobel laureate whether they succeed or fail.
Cloroquine is a drug that has been used to treat malaria for seventy years. In an episode of great fortuitousness it also has recently been the focus of peer-reviewed studies indicating a real potential for cloroquine as an effective treatment for the coronavirus.
But identifying a possible weapon is useless without the brave leadership required to order it brought to bear. President Trump has made it clear that this is not the time to spend years drafting a panel of experts to appoint a committee to shuffle papers and debate while the pandemic could worsen; the president is going to fast-track this cheap, safe, prospective treatment and the stalling red-tape is going to take the lower priority it deserves at present.
There are other heroes as well wading into the fight, these among our allies in Israel. The pharmaceutical giant, Teva, is donating six million doses of cloroquine, set to arrive in American hospitals by the end of this month, along with another four million tablets by April 30. And that is quite telling insofar as the relationship between the United States and Israel is concerned.
If ever there were the time for every decent American to rebuke the anti-Semitic propaganda disseminated by the “Boycott, Disinvest and Sanction” (BDS) far-leftist crowd, it is now. It’s also the moment to say “thank you” to our comrades-in-arms in Israel. No American will ever forget this incredibly selfless and laudable act by Israelis.