Emerging theories regarding COVID-19

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Salient Points 

Currently the COVID-19 infection is being treated as a dysfunction of the lower respiratory tract.

The primary symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste and smell.

In mild cases of COVID-19, the virus will run its course and resolve on its own. In severe cases patients might progress to a state of severe hypoxemia.

Without adequate oxygen delivery, vital organs and tissues are starved of oxygen and begin shutting down which may eventually lead to death.

The current treatments assume that coronavirus is causing a build-up of liquid in the alveoli – making it difficult for oxygen to transfer through the fluid and make its way into the bloodstream. To counteract oxygen deprivation caused by this build up of fluid, COVID19 is currently being treated as a case of acute respiratory distress, also known as ARDS.

The standard treatment for ARDS is mechanical ventilation. Although treatment with ventilation does not seem to be ideal. Some doctors have observed that the use of ventilators may even be harming some patients.

Detailed Summary 

Emerging ideas on the Virus 

  • There is mounting evidence suggesting that the initial understanding of how the coronavirus impacts the body may be incorrect.

The following must be considered:

  • Patients are showing life threatening levels of blood oxygenation, but without showing the typical signs of distress that are expected.
  • Ventilators aren’t working as well as they should be and may even be harming some people.
  • Many patients report a loss of taste and smell, typically associated with zinc deficiency, not respiratory disease.
  • Researchers have noted that the pathological mechanism that causes the damage to the body remains a mystery.
  • 20% of COVID-19 patients have cardiac damage.
  • Fatality rates, even among places with robust testing in place, are wildly different. These discrepancies have hinted at a new culprit as well as new possible solutions.

New theory on COVID-19 

One interesting aspect of COVID-19, is that in spite of fitting most of the criteria under the definition of ARDS there is one exception with the coronavirus, there appears to be hypoxia rather than respiratory distress as seen in classic ARDS and respiratory failure. Many patients present with severe hypoxia with nearly normal respiratory function. This combination is almost never seen in severe cases of ARDS.

Interestingly, it is found that COVID-19 creates a clinical picture similar to someone

suffering from severe malaria or altitude illness.

Questions that arise:

  • What if coronavirus attacks red blood cells similar to how malaria does.
  • COVID-19 causes a functioning set of lungs to be unable to deliver oxygen to the heart similar to high altitude edema.

COVID-19 and its effect on the RBCs 

In severe cases of the disease, the lungs are severely damaged. But new information

on this virus’s cellular process in the body is revealing that the final condition of the

lungs and accompanying respiratory failure may actually be more of a case of cellular piracy

rather than an attack on the alveoli and the capillaries.

Theory:

  • On viral entry, it attaches itself to the heme groups in the RBC, It oxidizes the iron center of a hemoglobin protein, releases the iron, and then docks in its place
  • Without the heme groups to receive, transport and deliver oxygen molecules, RBCs lose their capacity to carry oxygen.
  • As the virus reproduces and attaches to more and more RBCs, the body’s ability to transport oxygen continues to dwindle.
  • The virus binds to each red blood cell, heme groups and their iron centers which are kicked

off of the cell and begin floating around in the bloodstream.

  • In an attempt to neutralize this flooding of iron into the bloodstream, the body begins depleting it’s stores of zinc in an attempt to maintain balance and neutralize this overload of iron.
  • The release of the oxidative iron from the hemes creates toxic oxidative iron overload resulting in massive oxidative stress that overwhelms the lungs and surrounding tissues.
  • This free iron forms reactive oxygen species.

The above would explain the following:

  • Why one in five COVID-19 patients have cardiac damage.
  • Why IV nutrients that target cardiovascular function are beneficial.
  • Why many people experience a loss of taste and smell. (Zn deficiency)
  • Why anti-malarial medications are showing promising results.
  • This theory would also explain why ventilators aren’t working quite like expected.

Ventilators work by forcing more air into the lungs, so more oxygen can be delivered to the

blood. This is helpful when there’s liquid or inflammation in the lungs, and the blood is working

normally – like in pneumonia. However, if the issue arises with the blood’s ability to absorb

this oxygen, then a ventilator cannot perform its role.

Possible treatment options keeping this theory in mind:

High Dose Vitamin C:

Ultra-high doses of vitamin C are speculated to fight the massive immune response and subsequent respiratory failure seen in coronavirus infection by:

  • Suppressing the over-reactive inflammatory response in the lungs
  • Minimizing the accumulation of immune cells in the tissues of the lungs
  • Decreasing the release of cytokines
  • Slowing down the viruses ability to reproduce and spread
  • Neutralizing the oxidative stress caused by the massive amounts of iron floating around in

the bloodstream

Glutathione:

Glutathione is a potent antioxidant naturally found in most of the cells in your body.

Glutathione plays a few major roles in immune function including:

  • Functioning as a signaling molecule
  • Reducing oxidative injury
  • Regulating cellular proliferation and apoptosis

There is a growing mountain of evidence finding that the most effective way to take

glutathione may be through inhalation. Inhaled glutathione (aerosolized or nebulized) is

already being used in the treatment of a variety of respiratory-related conditions.

Inhaled Hydrogen: 

The inhalation of concentrated hydrogen gas is another potential treatment option due to its

powerful antioxidant properties. Inhaling hydrogen gas has been found to:

  • Reduce oxidative stress induced damage
  • Reduce cellular apoptosis
  • Improve gas exchange in the lungs
  • Block the production of proinflammatory mediators

Inhaled hydrogen gas may be particularly effective when paired with other anti-oxidative

therapies such as IV vitamin C and inhaled glutathione.

Other Antiviral Drugs:

  • Methylene Blue:

Methylene blue works by converting methemoglobin into a type of hemoglobin that can more effectively transport oxygen.

  • Remdesivir:

Remdesivir is another antiviral drug used for Ebola. A small study on severe cases in the US,

Canada, Europe, and Japan concluded that Remdesvir caused clinical improvement in

68% of patients.

  • Favipiravir:

Favipiravir is a powerful anti-viral agent that inhibits the virus from replicating

and spreading. It has been approved in China and Japan for the treatment of influenza

and is undergoing research to determine its potential efficacy in treating COVID-19.

Hyperbaric Treatment: 

Hyperbaric treatment works in two ways. First, inspired oxygen concentration is increased to

nearly 100% and ambient pressure is increased to about 3x higher than the

normal air pressure. This combination is designed to hyperoxygenate your blood, improving oxygen delivery.

Hyperbaric treatment may be an effective adjunct therapy to help COVID-19 patients recover,

especially when administered early.

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