Coronavirus Covid-19: What is it, and what can be done to mitigate the spread and effects of this virus?

The Trump adminstration is ill-prepared to respond to the current Covid-19 pandemic and is spreading disinformation about the virus (Thielking, 2020). As of Feb. 23, the CDC had tested just 479 people, not including those who were evacuated from other countries. Testing kits sent out by the CDC nationwide turned out to be faulty, meaning that just 12 labs across the country can currently run tests outside of the CDC. And the CDC didn’t allow the State of California and UC Berkeley to begin testing for Covid-19, even though UC Berkeley trained the scientists who developed the technology (PCR – Dr. Kary Mullis, Ph.D.) underlying the diagnostic tests, for over a week after having set-up a testing center. And the Trump administration allowed untrained, non-garbed federal workers to be directly exposed to known Covid-19 carriers in the Davis, California area. As a result, one patient was likely exposed to one of these workers and wasn’t tested as requested by physicians at UC Davis Medical Center, and now the patient is on a ventilator fighting for her life. Trump appointed morons, such as Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said, in a wildly innaccurate statement, the fatality rate is ‘similar to seasonal flu.’ Therefore it is up to you to take good care of yourself during this pandemic, because Trump doesn’t care and Pence is incapable.

Unlike their common-cold-causing viral cousins, the emergent coronavirus Covid-19 can induce a viral-induced inflammatory, immune response throughout many of the patient’s organs. COVID-19 binds angiotensin-converting enzyme 2(ACE2). ACE2 is a receptor, an entranceway for Covid-19 to the airways and alveoli, where O2 – CO2 gas exchange occurs, and blood vessel linings. Death due to massive alveolar damage and progressive respiratory failure can occur.  This is why the Covid-19 epidemic has killed nearly 3,000 people, surpassing the SARS death toll in just weeks. While the death rate for Covid-19 (about 2%) appears to be a fifth of SARS, the novel coronavirus has spread faster (spread factor may be 3-5), although the data for Covid-19 are not yet clear.

For most patients, COVID-19 primarily stays in their lungs, because like the flu, coronaviruses are primarily respiratory diseases – most of the receptors they attach to in our bodies are located in the respiratory system. The virus spreads typically when an infected person coughs or sneezes, spraying droplets that can transmit the virus to anyone in close contact. Best to avoid being near people expressing such symptoms. Coronaviruses typically cause flu-like symptoms, where patients start out with a fever and cough that can progresses to pneumonia or even respiratory failure. Based on early data from China, 80% of the Covid-19 cases are mild and don’t require hospitalization (Zhang et al, 2020).

Initial infection of the Covid-19 coronavirus rapidly invades the two major classes of human lung cells; cells that make mucus and cells with hair-like protrusions called cilia. Mucus, part of the immune system, helps protect lung tissue from pathogens and make sure your breathing organ doesn’t dry out. The cilia cells move the mucus, clearing out foreign agents like pollen or viruses. The physical movement of the cilia may also induce mechanical autophagy (Kim et al, 2017), another means to clear pathogens from our cells. Activated by the presence of a viral invader, our bodies step up to fight the disease by recruiting immune cells to the lungs, including adult stem cells that also have immune cell properties (Maguire, 2020), to clear away the damage and repair the lung tissue. Holes are created in the lung tissue by the immune system’s hyperactive response that also creates scaring that both protect and stiffen the lungs. At this point patients often require ventilators to assist their breathing. The robust inflammatory response also makes the membranes between the aveoli and blood vessels more permeable, that can fill the lungs with fluid, reducing gas exchange and affecting the aveoli’s ability to oxygenate blood. Because the receptor recognition of Covid-19 virus is similar to that of SARS, which affects receptors in the gut, and because a number of patients have reported stomach problems during Covid-19 infection, Covid-19 is likely to present in the small intestine as does SARS when it infects humans (Wan et al, 2020).

So what can be done to avoid and mitigate the effects of coronavirus Covid-19? First, make sure to follow the advice of public health officials, not Donald Trump or his political appointees. These people are numbskulls (Levin, 2019). Second, avoid people with respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and labored breathing. Wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth without having washed your hands. Don’t be led to believe that a surgical mask protects you from the virus- it doesn’t. Only a N-95 mask works well (about 95% filtration of virus particle) if properly fitted to the face. Respiratory viruses transmit mostly through droplet spread — which is coughing or sneezing on somebody — or in some cases by fomite transmission, which means you contaminate a surface which another person then immediately touches, and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes. Viruses can maintain themselves in active state for hours, even days on surfaces, but Covid-19 is reportedly easily inactivated by alcohol.

To mitigate the effects of a virus infection, including Coronavirus Covid-19, you should be eating a mostly plant-based diet that includes significant amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber. I explain this in my book, Thinking And Eating For Two: The Science of Using Systems 1 and 2 Thinking to Nourish Self and Symbionts, but briefly, without you having to read my book which is a tome, here’s why. Soluble fiber is fermented and regulates the innate and adaptive immune systems to better fight viral infection and to better resolve the inflammation induced by the activation of the immune system (e.g. Trompette et al, 2018). And insoluble fiber will upregulate the immune system in a number of ways, including to induce mechanical autophagy that helps to clear infectious agents (Kim et al, 2017). Also, eating a plant based diet rich in many types of antioxidants sets-up an antioxidant cascade (Villanueva and Kross, 2012) that also helps to fight viral infection (e.g. Beck, 2001; Crump et al, 2013). My video update on Covid-19 is here. Let’s all do our part to mitigate the spread and ill-effects of this dangerous virus so that all may be healthy.

 

References

Beck MA (2001) Antioxidants and viral infections: host immune response and viral pathogenicity. J Am Coll Nutr. 20(5 Suppl):384S-388S.

Crump KE et al (2013) Antioxidant Treatment Regulates the Humoral Immune Response during Acute Viral Infection. J. Virology, DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02714-12.

Kim SW et al (2017) Shear stress induces noncanonical autophagy in intestinal epithelial monolayers. Mol Biol Cell. 28(22): 3043–3056.

Levin B (2019) JANET YELLEN: TRUMP IS AN EVEN BIGGER IDIOT THAN HE LOOKS. Vanity Fair, Feb 25, 2019.

Maguire G (2020) Stem Cells, Part of the Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems, as an Antimicrobial for Coronavirus Covid-19. Stem cells, health, technology, Feb 23, 2020.

Thielking M (2020) Trump’s no stranger to misinformation. But with the coronavirus, experts say that’s dangerous. STAT, Feb 26, 2020.

Trompette A et al (2018) Dietary Fiber Confers Protection against Flu by Shaping Ly6c Patrolling Monocyte Hematopoiesis and CD8+ T Cell Metabolism. Immunity. 2018 May 15;48(5):992-1005.e8

Villanueva C and Kross RD (2012) Antioxidant-Induced Stress. Int J Mol Sci. 2012; 13(2): 2091–2109.

Wan Y et al (2020) Receptor recognition by novel coronavirus from Wuhan: An analysis based on decade-long structural studies of SARS. J. Virology, DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00127-20

Zhang et al (2020) Vital Surveillances: The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020. China CDC. http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/en/article/id/e53946e2-c6c4-41e9-9a9b-fea8db1a8f51

 

 

Published by Dr. Greg Maguire, Ph.D.

Dr. Maguire, a Fulbright-Fogarty Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, is a scientist, innovator, teacher, healthcare professional. He has over 100 publications and numerous patents. His book, "Adult Stem Cell Released Molecules: A Paradigm Shift To Systems Therapeutics" was published by Nova Science Publishers in 2018.

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