This is an update on the “Watch the Water” documentary that went viral last week.
You’ve probably already seen it, but in case you haven’t I have all the details in the article below, plus the full video, plus my take on everything.
You can read that here:
But now I want to advance the story…
Thank you to a reader who tipped me onto this story, because it really is quite interesting.
How many people do you think are affected by snake bites each year?
Has to be a relatively small number, right?
A very, very small percentage of the world’s population.
And yet…there has apparently been a “serious snakebite anti-venom shortage” going on for over a decade.
I’m not drawing any conclusions, mainly because I don’t know exactly what this means, but it sure does strike me as odd when you start looking at all of these posts and the dates of the posts.
It’s almost as if they’ve been working on this for a long time.
I don’t know, I just report and I leave it to you to draw conclusions.
So check this out…from May 2019 (which is pre-pandemic, for those of you taking notes):
Every 5 minutes someone dies from snake envenomation, with 400K people disabled every year.
This should be a very treatable condition but worldwide shortages of antivenom (because of $ issues) mean little has changed in centuries in most places. #FOAMtoxhttps://t.co/ETP9bdXd9G pic.twitter.com/72Z5mLSPxz
— toxstagrams (@toxstagrams) May 23, 2019
Important piece on a neglected tropical disease with huge public health implications. Climate change and antivenom shortages will only make this more urgent in coming years. #snakebite #wildmed #globalhealth https://t.co/RXBcwUuM8h
— WMworldwide (@WMworldwide) November 22, 2020
— Leslie Boyer MD (@lvboyer_md) May 27, 2016
— Nick Casewell (@nickcasewell) October 22, 2015
Snakebites are a significant public health problem in low income countries, but antivenom is expensive and difficult to manufacture at scale, leading to chronic shortages and unnecessary deaths https://t.co/BRVMeut3ci
— Rachel Strohm (@RachelStrohm) March 25, 2019
— Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (@DNDi) January 28, 2019
Even the Business Insider has been covering it…
Here’s a screenshot of their article fro 2016:
Here is a portion of that Business Insider article:
Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja_mossambica)
A Mozambique spitting cobra, one of the deadly snakes whose bites can be treated with FAV-Afrique antivenom. Ryanvanhuyssteen/Wikimedia Commons
At the end of June 2016, the last remaining supplies of an important, safe, and effective antivenom expired.
The antidote, known as FAV-Afrique, is what Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has relied on to treat snakebites in sub-Saharan Africa. It can be used to treat bites from ten venomous snakes, including some of the most dangerous in Africa. That’s particularly useful in the common cases where a person doesn’t know what type of snake bit them.
While other antivenoms exist, no one knows yet if any of these potential alternatives will safely be able to fill the hole left by an antidote that can be used against so many different types of snakebite. They will have to use alternatives anyway, hoping they work.
“It’s a shame that a product that all experts agree was good was abandoned,” says Julien Potet, policy advisor for neglected tropical diseases at MSF. “We’re putting the lives of some patients at risk.”
The dire situation is no surprise — MSF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and others have known that Sanofi Pasteur had stopped producing FAV-Afrique years before. MSF had hoped to convince the pharmaceutical company to accelerate the transfer of their technology to another company and to continue producing antivenom in the interim period, but that still hasn’t happened. Even if they find someone else willing to produce the treatment, Potet says it’ll take a couple of years for a new company to get production going and to get antivenom distributed.
In a statement emailed by a representative of Sanofi, the company explained that they ceased production of FAV-Afrique after lower cost products led to a “steep drop in orders” for their antivenom.
The statement added: “Sanofi Pasteur regrets the worldwide situation with respect to the supply of anti-venom immunoglobulins and is studying options that would enable the transfer of know-how to other biologicals producers who would be willing to take over the production.”
But the fact of the matter is, finding someone who wants to produce antivenom is not an easy task. A recent Nature News story explains that many pharma companies have stopped producing antivenom and only five of the 35 companies or governments who make antivenom make products for sub-Saharan Africa.
“In the absence of medicines, snakebite victims have been known to drink petrol, electrocute themselves or apply a poultice of cow dung and water to the bite,” Carrie Arnold writes.
Who knew snakebites and an anti-venom shortage were such big issues?
And I have to end with this…
Timothy Dixon has been talking about his visions of literal snakes covering the White House for over a year now.
I don’t know but I found it fascinating:
And here’s David Crowder’s new hit song about Crushing Snakes:
Lot’s of snakes everywhere you look suddenly…