Private Sector, Not Government, Will Lead Us Out of Pandemic

M.D. Kittle,

While elected officials and bureaucrats go about shutting down business, entrepreneurs and the private sector will lead America and the world out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case in point are companies such as Pulmotect Inc., a Houston-based bio-pharmaceutical company that develops products to reduce death in patients at risk of severe respiratory diseases.

Pulmotect in late January announced that experiments involving its PUL-042 immune system drug showed promise in protecting against both lethal SARS-associated coronavirus and the MERS-associated coronavirus. PUL-042 is delivered as an aerosol. In tests involving mice, a single inhaled dose was shown to protect the host from SARS-CoV, and the drug significantly reduced the amount of virus in the lungs after infection with either the SARS-or MERS-related coronavirus, according to the company’s press release.

“We have demonstrated PUL-042’s unique ability to stimulate the immune system in the lungs to protect against a wide range of pathogens in multiple animal models,” said Colin Broom, MD, chief executive officer of Pulmotect. “With the risks of virulent coronaviruses and other threats increasing, as shown by the recent outbreak in Wuhan (and now the rest of the world) … Pulmotect is optimistic that its immune-stimulating technology could be useful in mitigating the threats of current and emerging pathogens and protecting vulnerable populations.”

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Pulmotect has worked for more than a decade with MD Anderson Cancer Center and Texas A&M in developing the drug.

Pulmotect plans to launch clinical trials testing the safety and effectiveness of the drug in humans next week at Houston Methodist, the company told the Houston Chronicle. If successful, it could request expedited approval in the next six months.

“(I)f approved, it could provide short-term immunization for doctors, nurses and people in close proximity to COVID-19 patients until a proper vaccine is developed,” the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, British vacuum cleaner and home appliance maker Dyson Ltd. has announced it has designed a new ventilator called the CoVent, with plans to ship thousands in the coming weeks, according to CNN. The company’s founder, billionaire inventor James Dyson, said the company came up with the bed-mounted, portable ventilator in just 10 days.

“This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume,” Dyson wrote in a letter obtained by Fast Company. He noted CoVent is “designed to address the specific clinical needs of COVID-19 patients.”

Wisconsin manufacturers are helping to lead the charge in production of the bare essentials — in particular, replenishing the nation’s dwindling toilet paper, soap and hand sanitizer supplies.

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Clearwater Paper’s plant in Neenah is part of the nation’s leading producer of store-brand paper products.

“Clearwater Paper is also experiencing a significant increase in demand for its retail tissue products and an increase in demand for paperboard used for packaging food and pharmaceutical products,” the manufacturer said in a press release. “The company is focused on ensuring continuous operations to serve its customers’ demand for these essential goods. Clearwater Paper’s facilities are currently producing as usual.”

If government really wants to help, it will get out of the way of private sector innovation and American industry. More than ever, as John Hartley of National Review recently wrote, it’s time for government to cut the red tape to combat the coronavirus.

“In addition to the many measures being introduced and passed into law, including economic-stimulus measures and funding for testing, one critically important government response is to cut red tape and regulatory burdens that stand in the way of a quick and impactful response from businesses that can meaningfully help in the crisis,” Hartley wrote.