Yesterday, as a possible weapon against COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration rushed out approval for an anti-malarial treatment. What does malaria, a tropical disease caused by a parasite, have to do with the viral infection rampaging across the globe?
When an anxious public first learned about the chloroquine as a tool against the novel coronavirus, some of us with no experience of tropical medicine said to ourselves, “Wait, I’ve heard of that before.” Yes, chloroquine-resistant malarial parasites figure prominently in biochemist and ID proponent Michael Behe’s argument for sharp limits to what unguided Darwinian processes can do. He details that case in his book The Edge of Evolution. Now, on a fascinating and very timely episode of ID the Future, Professor Behe talks with host Andrew McDiarmid about chloroquine and its role in demonstrating the need for intelligent design in the rise of complex life.
Behe discusses the history of the medication. The story goes back centuries to the Spanish colonization of South America, where native people recognized the anti-malarial properties of the cinchona tree and its bark. Something I had not heard before is a really clear explanation of how chloroquine works, on the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum and, perhaps, on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As Behe says, they may provide a means of interfering with the virus’s ability to invade cells.
So the world waits as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are put to the test. Dr. Behe provides a “ray of hope,” as Andrew rightly puts it, and welcome clarity in this sad and confusing time. Download the podcast or listen to it here.