Emerging Theories That May Help Us Solve the COVID-19 Puzzle

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Salient features:

This article focuses on:

  • Current Theory and Treatment for Coronavirus
  • Emerging ideas on the virus
  • How Red Blood Cells Are Designed Carry Oxygen
  • A New Theory on COVID-19’s Mechanism of Injury
  • Could COVID-19 Actually Be Attacking The Blood?
  • This Might Explain Why Anti-malarial Medications are Being Considered for Treatment
  • The Connection Between COVID-19 and Altitude Sickness
  • If This Theory Is Correct, How Would This Affect Treatment?
  • If This Theory Is Correct, What Are Potential Treatment Options?
  • High Dose Vitamin C
  • Glutathione
  • Inhaled Hydrogen
  • Other Antiviral Drugs
  • Hyperbaric Treatment
  • Give Your Immune System the Support It Needs

Detailed summary:

Current Theory and Treatment for Coronavirus

  • Currently COVID-19 is being treated as a dysfunction of the lower respiratory tract.
  • It’s primary symptoms are:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • COVID-19 patients also report a loss of taste and smell.
  • In mild cases of COVID-19, the virus will run its course and resolve on its own.
  • But if this disease progresses to a critical level, patients spiral into a state of severe hypoxemia – where the body is unable to effectively deliver life-sustaining oxygen to the rest of the body.
  • Without adequate oxygen delivery, vital organs and tissues are starved of oxygen and begin shutting down – which can eventually lead to death.
  • The current treatments assume that coronavirus is causing a build-up of liquid (instead of air) 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, COVID-19 is currently being treated as a case of acute respiratory distress, also known as ARDS.
  • The standard treatment for ARDS is mechanical ventilation – which will force air into the alveoli in hopes of transferring oxygen into the blood.
  • Some doctors have observed that the use of ventilators may be harmful for some patients.

Emerging ideas on the virus

  • Patients are showing blood oxygen levels so low that they should be life-threatening, but without showing the typical signs of distress that are expected when the same levels are reached due to lung dysfunction.
  • Doctors are saying that ventilators aren’t working as well as they should be and may even be harmful for some people.
  • Many patients report a loss of taste and smell, typically associated with zinc deficiency, not respiratory disease.
  • Twenty percent of COVID-19 patients have cardiac damage.
  • Fatality rates, even among places with robust testing in place, are wildly different. 

How Red Blood Cells Are Designed Carry Oxygen

  • As you inhale air, oxygen enters your lungs and reaches the alveoli which is lined with a layer of cells that creates the barrier between your lungs and your bloodstream.
  • Oxygen molecules pass through this barrier and attach themselves to a protein called hemoglobin that is bound to your red blood cells.
  • Once the red blood cells have picked up oxygen, they deliver it to the rest of the tissues in the body.
  • A vital component of hemoglobin proteins are heme groups – which are embedded in the hemoglobin and are responsible for binding and releasing oxygen molecules.
  • These heme groups are a metal complex and contain iron as the central metal atom, with each iron molecule capable of carrying one oxygen molecule.
  • These iron rich heme groups are critical – without them your cells are unable to transport the oxygen your tissues depend on.
  • This understanding of how red blood cells and your lungs work has sparked a new theory about how COVID-19 may be exerting it’s devastating effects.

A New Theory on COVID-19’s Mechanism of Injury

  • With the coronavirus, there appears to be hypoxia or low oxygen saturation in the blood rather than respiratory distress as seen in classic acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and respiratory failure.
  • Many patients present with severe hypoxia with nearly normal respiratory function.
  • This combination is never seen in severe cases of ARDS.
  • COVID-19 creates a clinical picture similar to someone suffering from severe malaria or altitude illness.

Could COVID-19 Actually Be Attacking The Blood?

  • In COVID-19’s final and severe stages, the lungs are severely damaged.
  • The theory on how coronavirus causes this destruction:
  • When the virus enters your body it attaches itself to the heme groups in your red blood cells.
  • It oxidizes the iron center of a hemoglobin protein, releases the iron, and then docks in its place – creating a red blood cell with a new captain: the virus.
  • Without the “delivery crew” of heme groups to receive, transport, and deliver oxygen molecules, red blood cells lose their capacity to carry oxygen. This essentially turns your red blood cells into deflated useless rafts
  • As the virus reproduces and attaches to more and more red blood cells, the body’s ability to transport oxygen continues to dwindle and the body struggles more and more to keep up with the demand for oxygen.
  • As the virus binds to each blood cell, heme groups and their iron centers are kicked off of the cell and begin floating around in the bloodstream.
  • In an attempt to neutralize this flooding of iron into your 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 is like a dangerous rogue criminal that ravages the body and tissues with its reactive oxygen species weapons.

This Might Explain Why Anti-malarial Medications are Being Considered for Treatment.

  • Hydroxychloroquine, also known as Plaquenil, is an anti-malarial medication
  • Hydroxychloroquine may be exerting antiviral effects due to hydroxychloroquine’s relationship with the mineral zinc.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is a zinc ionophore.
  • When intracellular concentrations of zinc are increased, it displays broad spectrum antiviral activity in a few ways:
  • Zinc inhibits the actions of certain proteins necessary for the completion of different phases of the virus’s life cycle – essentially halting its ability to reproduce
  • Zinc supports a robust immune response by aiding in the production of cytokines and the modulation of immune cells
  • Zinc acts as a powerful antioxidant and prooxidant – neutralizing the oxidative stress caused by toxic overload of iron
  • Lack of taste and smell can be caused by a zinc deficiency.
  • The action of hydroxychloroquine helping zinc enter cells is part of the reason the drug has benefitted some COVID-19 patients.
  • It’s important to note that in order for hydroxychloroquine to work, there must be adequate zinc levels available to allow into the cells – so hydroxychloroquine must be administered in conjunction with zinc to be most effective against COVID-19.
  • Hydroxychloroquine has shown promise, as well as some risk for those with cardiac arrythmias.

The Connection Between COVID-19 and Altitude Sickness

  • COVID-19’s clinical presentation is similar to altitude sickness.
  • In both COVID-19 and high altitude pulmonary edema clinical findings include:
  • A decreased ratio of arterial oxygen levels to inspired oxygen
  • Hypoxia and tachypnea
  • Low carbon dioxide levels
  • A ground glass appearance in the lung tissues
  • Elevated fibrinogen levels
  • Diffuse alveolar damage
  • In altitude sickness, the lungs are functioning fine – there is just inadequate levels of oxygen to process to properly meet the needs of the body.
  • Clinical findings similar to altitude sickness would make sense if COVID-19 is in fact causing a dysfunction of red blood cells rather than a problem with the lungs

If This Theory Is Correct, How Would This Affect Treatment?

  • Ventilators may not be the first line of care – considering ventilators are designed to compensate for a dysfunction of the lungs

If This Theory Is Correct, What Are Potential Treatment Options?

High Dose Vitamin C:

  • High doses of vitamin C potentially mitigate the effects of coronavirus.
  • 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
  • High dose vitamin C can be delivered intravenously but oral vitamin C can also be beneficial if taken correctly.
  • Oral vitamin C causes diarrhea, liposomal Vitamin C at frequent intervals does not, and is an effective way to increase intracellular levels.

Glutathione:

  • Glutathione is a potent antioxidant naturally found in most of the cells in the body.
  • Glutathione plays major roles in immune function including:
  • Functioning as a signaling molecule – helping balance inflammation levels and modulating immune system response
  • Reducing oxidative injury by neutralizing harmful
  • Regulating cellular proliferation and apoptosis
  • The most effective way to take glutathione is through inhalation.
  • Inhaled glutathione (aerosolized or nebulized) is used in the treatment of a variety of respiratory-related conditions and has been garnering attention as a possible treatment option for COVID-19.

Inhaled Hydrogen:

  • 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 effective when paired with other anti-oxidative therapies such as IV vitamin C and inhaled glutathione.

Other Antiviral Drugs:

  • A number of other antiviral medications are being studied for their potential to treat COVID-19.
  • These include:
  • Methylene Blue: Methylene Blue is a medication that has been used in the treatment of malaria due to its powerful antiviral properties – killing the virus at an impressive speed.It’s also used in the treatment methemoglobinemia .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.
  • Favipiravir: Favipiravir is a powerful anti-viral agent that inhibits the virus from replicating and spreading.

Hyperbaric Treatment:

  • Hyperbaric treatment works in two ways.
  • First, inspired oxygen concentration is increased to nearly 100%.
  • Secondly, ambient pressure is increased to about three times higher than the air pressure we normally breathe.
  • This combination is designed to essential “hyper oxygenate” your blood – improving oxygen delivery to your tissues.
  • Hyperbaric treatment may be an effective adjunct therapy to help COVID-19 patients recover, especially when administered early.

Give Your Immune System the Support It Needs

  • IV Vitamin C and Glutathione: A powerful combination of two of the most potent antioxidants delivered intravenously so they can be immediately used by the cells to combat oxidative damage.
  • Inhaled Glutathione: Inhaling glutathione delivers it directly to your lung cells – replenishing their antioxidant stores that are quickly used up when fighting inflammation.
  • Inhaled Hydrogen: Pairing inhaled hydrogen’s impressive anti-inflammatory effects with Vitamin C and glutathione makes for a robust and powerful trio of antioxidant therapies.
  • Nasal Ozone: Inhaling ozone gas helps your body more effectively uptake oxygen and activates a healthy immune response.

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