Top medical expert warns that thousands of Americans who have survived COVID-19 are a ticking time bomb
A doctor who has been studying lung disease for 15 years has warned of an imminent health crisis that could overshadow the long-term impact of COVID-19.
Dr. Sassan Rafi, who has conducted extensive research on crippling pulmonary fibrosis, one of the conditions now associated with acute coronavirus patients, claims that thousands of Americans hospitalized with the virus are faced with a ticking time bomb even after recovery of the virus.
The researcher says those diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis after weeks on a ventilator have a shocking morbidity rate that’s much worse than many cancers.
This is because coronavirus infections in the United States are on the rise after declining for more than six weeks.
Dr. Sassan Rafi says COVID-19 patients with pulmonary fibrosis have shocking morbidity rates after weeks on a ventilator
Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue is damaged and scarred and is caused by aggressive viruses such as COVID-19. A COVID-19 patient is shown on a ventilator
The U.S. has registered more than 2.9 million cases of coronavirus with 130,000 deaths
Currently, the U.S. has registered more than 2.9 million cases of coronavirus and more than 130,000 Americans have died from the virus.
New cases and hospital admissions have risen to record levels in states such as Arizona, Texas, California and Florida.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue is damaged and scarred and is caused by aggressive viruses such as COVID-19.
This thickened, rigid tissue makes it harder for your lungs to work properly and exchange oxygen and can lead to respiratory failure.
Dr. Rafi, anaesthesiologist and founder of Chief Medical Officer of Upright Pharmaceuticals, Inc, says that many hospital patients, even if they fully recover from a COVID-19 related disease, can still die from fibrosis.
“Pulmonary fibrosis has a three-year prognosis, which is worse than many cancers, and there is currently no optimal treatment,” he explains.
Dr. Rafi says that even if a patient survives hospitalization and survives fluid in his lungs for so many weeks, it can still lead to persistent effects like fibrosis.
So what we do is scan the lungs and if we see fibrosis in the lungs it says that their life may not come back. That’s the point where no return is possible, “he said.
“It is a progressive disease, which means you may be feeling well, but the fibrosis is getting worse and that is an area that no one is addressing.”
The doctor says that some patients may need to rely on a ventilator for the rest of their lives, while others may require a lung transplant.
Dr. Rafi has been studying pulmonary fibrosis since 2005 and completed his doctorate in molecular, cellular and systemic physiology at the University of California at Davis.
Now, the pharmaceutical company Upright Pharmaceuticals, Inc is developing an early compound to tackle the condition and they continue to study fibrosis through collaborations with UC Davis, the University of Michigan and others.
Dr. Rafi’s partner, CEO of Upright Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Andrew Young (right) says the “legacy” and potential magnitude of this looming problem is of great importance
New cases and hospital admissions have risen to record levels in states such as Arizona, Texas, California and Florida
Dr. Rafi argues that if the government does not pay attention to his work and the work of others, there will be an imminent health crisis on the horizon.
“It’s not just about who dies acutely from the virus, it’s about what’s to come over years and years, once the virus is gone,” he said.
Dr. Rafi’s partner, CEO of Upright Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Andrew Young, agrees.
He says that the “legacy” and potential scope of this looming problem is of great importance.
Mr. Young says that according to the latest data, 40% of acute coronavirus patients will experience an extreme immune response known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which leads to pulmonary fibrosis
Mr. Young says that according to the latest data, 40% of acute coronavirus patients will experience an extreme immune response known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which leads to pulmonary fibrosis. At least 20% of ARDS cases are serious.
Data from the SARS-CoV outbreak in 2003 also showed that a high percentage of survivors had persistent pulmonary fibrosis and reduced lung function.
“It’s almost the body’s immune system that is nuclear at work trying to kill everything, causing scars and all sorts of other problems, especially very rampant inflammation,” he said.
“And right now in the crisis, more than a hundred thousand people have died from COVID and we think the acute patients are hundreds of thousands in the first wave.
“I think the public is getting more and more informed about exactly why COVID is so terrible and harmful and potentially deadly.
“And at its core, I think many would argue that fibrosis is really the short and long term problem that will cause further death and disability.”
Mr. Young said his partner’s research is focused on a compound that has the potential to interrupt that fibrotic process.
“It can reverse the scars so that someone can actually fully recover,” he said.
Dr. Rafi believes his company is about to develop a miracle drug that will stop pulmonary fibrosis in its tracks – and even reverse the damage.
“Our mission is to develop drugs that target fibrosis and specifically target pulmonary fibrosis, which is a devastating disease,” he said.
The drug is a soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitor. Soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) is an enzyme in the cell that, when inhibited, has been shown to prevent fibrosis and also to be a strong anti-inflammatory. ‘
However, the antifibrotic drug has not yet been approved by the FDA and has not yet been given a catchy name.
But Dr. Rafi says his company has a lot of solid preclinical and animal model data to move forward.
The company is also raising funds to further develop the drug and bring it to clinical trials as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it will likely take another two to three years for FDA approval to be obtained.
However, Upright Pharmaceuticals is in talks with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has requested funding to accelerate the medical trials for the drug.
Upright Pharmaceuticals is also partnering with EFFACÉ Aesthetics in Santa Monica to provide rapid COVID-19 antibody testing to the community. EFFACE is run by beauty entrepreneur Roberta Moradfar (photo)
A negative rapid COVID-19 test taken at EFFACÉ Aesthetics is shown
“We hope this pandemic can throw the spotlight on what we’re doing with this research, because it’s not just about COVID-19, what we’re developing here will have implications beyond COVID-19.” Rafi.
“I don’t want to scare people, but I think we should get the government to pay attention to the development of drugs and the drugs that could potentially treat a respiratory virus like COVID-19 and its complications. And that’s what we focused on.
Given the large number of individuals affected by COVID-19, even rare complications will have major health implications at the population level.
“Having a therapeutic agent can not only prevent long-term or terminal damage to the lungs from ARDS, but also help prolong life after these patients survive hospitalization.”
Upright Pharmaceuticals is also partnering with EFFACÉ Aesthetics in Santa Monica to provide rapid COVID-19 antibody testing to the community.
Run by beauty entrepreneur Roberta Moradfar, an Advanced Aesthetics Nurse Practitioner and fiancé of Hollywood actor and Bad Boys star Martin Lawrence, the test only takes 15 minutes.
Roberta told DailyMail.com, “I think the test will continue to practice safely.
“Take a social distance and wear your mask and wash your hands.
“People need to know their status, it’s just good to know if you have the COVID antibody or not so you know how to proceed and be safe.”