Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess is joining somebody for their self quarantine in the Oval Office! Shenanigans aside, I give a quick coronavirus update and a shameless plug before diving into our regular coverage of all the deals. As for COVID-19, there’s a ton of activity going on in the digital health world with companies trying to figure out how they can help with this. Catalyst will be presenting some of that, either this weekend or early next week. Next, there’s an FHIR-related HealthDevJam event (free, online) TODAY at 1pm Eastern with lots of great people speaking.
Diving into some non-coronavirus related deals, eConsult company RubiconMD raises $18 million, Lyra Health getes a chunk of change—$75 million—for its mental health platform, Fruit Street Health gets $17 million from an unlikely source, b.well raises $16 million for what’s not a personal health record, and CVS announces that it added 5 digital health companies to its point solution management system. Finally, there’s been some sneaky stuff uncovered about Sanofi. Tune in for all the details on Episode 112. —Matthew Holt
Some of the most important engineering lessons were demonstrated on the tank battlefields of World War II when German Tigers faced off against Soviet T-34s.
The Tiger tank was a technical masterpiece of for its time with many features that did not appear in allied tanks until after the war. Despite its much heavier armor it was able to match the speed of lighter enemy tanks and keep up with its own light tank scouts. The armor featured almost artisanally welded interlocking plates. The ammunition featured innovative electric trigger primers and high penetration tungsten shells. The double differential steering system allowed the Tiger to rotate in place. A complex system of interleaving wheels distributed weight evenly, improved off-road mobility and even allowed mobility with damaged tracks.
But while the Tiger was a star on the blueprints, it was a disaster on the Eastern front, not because of its combat performance but because it was a logistical and operational nightmare. The heavy armor made the tank a gas guzzler, which made tanks inoperable when supplies were low. The electric trigger primers would fail in cold weather. When rotating in place the gearbox would often break and German training manuals forbid the maneuver. The highly specialized internal mechanics made production slow and meant the tank often could not be repaired in the field but had to be sent back to Germany, and the great logistic costs meant that Tigers couldn’t drive to the front but had to be brought there by rail.
As the globe faces a novel, highly transmissible,
lethal virus, I am most struck by a medicine cabinet that is embarrassingly
empty for doctors in this battle. This
means much of the debate centers on mitigation of spread of the virus. Tempers flare over discussions on travel
bans, social distancing, and self quarantines, yet the inescapable fact remains
that the medical community can do little more than support the varying
fractions of patients who progress from mild to severe and life threatening
disease. This isn’t meant to minimize the
massive efforts brought to bear to keep patients alive by health care workers
but those massive efforts to support failing organs in the severely ill are in
large part because we lack any effective therapy to combat the virus. It is akin to taking care of patients with
bacterial infections in an era before antibiotics, or HIV/AIDS in an era before
It should be a familiar feeling for at least
one of the leading physicians charged with managing the current crisis – Dr.
Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci started as an
immunologist at the NIH in the 1960s and quickly made breakthroughs in
previously fatal diseases marked by an overactive immune response. Strange reports of a new disease that was
sweeping through the gay community in the early 1980’s caused him to shift
focus to join the great battle against the AIDS epidemic.
But there’s no doubt that in the last week or so, sentiment has changed. This week I and 45,000 of my best friends are at home, not at HIMSS in Florida. Many big gatherings like SXSW, Comic-Con and Coachella have been cancelled. Most corporations that can are asking employees to work from home. Just this morning my local school district in California called off school plays and any gatherings with more than 100 people.
The nation has realized that there is no help or even basic honesty coming from the Federal government. This is after the CDC screwed up the creation of basic testing kits which put the US in a situation where it just can not know the extent of the outbreak. China denied the outbreak, then had to put Wuhan and much of their economy on lockdown. Iran may be in worse shape.
Meanwhile South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have managed their outbreaks with very rapid testing, quarantining of those infected, and extremely rapid response. The US is still blundering around. Now the private sector is trying to step in as the Feds misstep again and again.
But a likely scenario is that many regions in the US will become like Northern Italy.