Mar
21
2020

Coping with Covid-19 Coronavirus

Recently the topic of coping with Covid-19 Coronavirus is at the forefront of our thinking. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that lead to severe respiratory distress. The first known coronavirus appeared in 2003 and was called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It originated in China. The second one was called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which began in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Covid-19 Coronavirus started in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

The Wuhan market in Wuhan, China

This link contains a walk-around in the Wuhan market, where’re all kinds of animal parts are sold for the peculiar taste of Chinese connoisseurs. Unfortunately, it may be the mix of infected animal parts and crowds of humans that can lead to endemics like SARS or Covid-19 Coronavirus.

Covid-19 Coronavirus is a variation of a general flu virus. Coronavirus attaches to the mucous membranes of the nasal cavity, the sinus cavities and the pharynx. It sets up an inflammatory reaction of the mucous membrane cells. The cold-like symptoms in the head occur around the 5th day of infection, but sometimes there is a longer incubation and the cold-like symptoms occur only around day 10. A high fever and a cough are next. Next it affects the mucous membranes of the voice box, the trachea, the bronchial tubes and finally of the alveoli (the tiny air sacs of the lungs).

Viral pneumonia causes mortality

It is this inflammation of the alveoli, which can make a person dangerously sick. If the virus is stronger than your immune system, you can get viral pneumonia. With this condition there are a lot of secretions that must be coughed up or else there is not enough surface in the lungs to absorb oxygen. You can literally drown in your own secretions. It is the inflammation in the lungs, called viral pneumonia, which kills many patients.

Antiviral medication

Regular antibiotics will not help for a viral flu, whether this is the influenza virus or the Covid-19 Coronavirus. But antiviral medication like oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), or peramivir (Rapivab) might help. Despite these efforts the death rate of the ordinary influenza virus infection is about 0.13 %, as the Centers for Disease Control have calculated. In comparison, SARS had a mortality rate of 7.5 to 10% and MERS a mortality rate of 35%. The present new variation of a coronavirus has a mortality around 3.7% in China and 1.9%, outside of China according to the WHO.

Interception of the multiplication of Covid-19 coronavirus

Why wait until the virus has traveled from the top (nose, sinuses) to the bottom (lungs)? There is a mega vitamin D3 dose therapy that became popular when the SARS epidemic was around. It was originally developed for influenza.

Recently I came down with a cold, when I remembered that you can fight the cold or flu with mega vitamin D3 doses. The cold did not fit into my plans. I was three days before singing as a lead singer in a local church and I needed my voice. I felt a burning in the back of my throat and knew I was coming down with a cold. Next I felt congested in my nose and sinuses.

Experience of the mega vitamin D3 therapy

I braced myself for the cold affecting my voice box and taking my voice away. But on the second day of the cold/flu I took 50,000 IU of vitamin D3. The following day the congestion was still confined to my nose and sinuses only. But it did not go further down into my throat or chest. I continued my dose of 50,000 vitamin D3 for the second day and a 3rd dose on the 3rd day. The mega vitamin D3 doses saved my voice. My cold/flu never progressed any further; it simply stopped.

Slow and fast absorbers of vitamin D3

I know that I am a slow absorber of vitamin D3 and normally need 10,000 IU daily to get into the normal range of 25-hydroxy vitamin D using a blood test. My cold symptoms settled down, there was no sign of laryngitis, where you sound scratchy. I also did not get a cough, which based on my past experience, would have lingered on for weeks. Other people who are fast absorbers get effective 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood levels with daily doses of only 4,000 IU or 5,000 IU. However, for the mega dose vitamin D3 therapy these subtle differences don’t matter. The whopping dose of vitamin D3 leads to a high 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels that last about 2 months.

Mechanism of stimulation of the immune system by mega vitamin D3 therapy

Taking high doses of vitamin D3 releases cathelicidin and defensins. These are polypeptides that have antibacterial and antiviral properties. The vitamin D antimicrobial pathway is described in this link. Vitamin D stimulates the immune system (B cells and T cells), which can suppress viral and bacterial infections. Dr. Thornburg describes that an adult should treat a cold/flu within 24 to 36 hours after onset with 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 once daily for 3 days. He also lists pediatric doses. A 30 lb child would receive 1/5th of the adult dose or 10,000 IU once a day for three days.

Following this treatment, the patient resumes the previous vitamin D3 maintenance dose.

Opinion of conventional medicine

The Mega vitamin D3 therapy approach is not part of conventional medicine. Here is a publication that states that Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in combination can be useful in the treatment of the common cold. But the section that describes the use of vitamin D seems to be very conservative. It does not even mention the importance of measuring the vitamin D blood levels.

25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level

Without a 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels the physician cannot determine whether or not you have adequate vitamin D blood levels. The normal level is considered to be 25-80 ng/mL. Many physicians say a level of 50-80 ng/mL is better (higher end of normal). This blood test will measure the sum of vitamin D from oral vitamin D3 and from sun-induced vitamin D. This test also reveals whether a person is a fast or a slow absorber. What counts is that a person taking vitamin D3 gets the blood level into the therapeutic range.

Vitamin D Toxicity 

Are there toxic levels of vitamin D? Whenever the topic of mega dose vitamin D3 is mentioned, conventional medicine will warn that vitamin D toxicity could develop including kidney stones and “bone pain, drowsiness, continuous headaches, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pains.” In these cases of toxicity the researchers did not indicate what the level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D level was. Other publications have established that the original recommended dose of vitamin D3 by the Food and Nutrition Board of 2000 IU per day was way too low.

According to this publication based on many other papers 10,000 IU per day or more should be considered the new recommendation.

Vitamin D3 Mega dose

Dr. Schwalfenberg stated: “This is a 1-time 50,000 IU dose of vitamin D3 or 10, 000 IU 3 times daily for 2 to 3 days. The results are dramatic, with complete resolution of symptoms in 48 to 72 hours. One-time doses of vitamin D at this level have been used safely and have never been shown to be toxic.” The half-life of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D3 is 15.1 days. This means that the transient elevation of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D3 will last only 5 half-lives or 75.5 days. After that time (2 1/2 months) the body has eliminated the mega dose of vitamin D3.

Community-based measures to reduce spread of Covid-19

There are several measures that help to stop the spread of Codi-19 Coronavirus. As our hands are often transmitting flu bugs to our eyes or mouth, it is important to wash our hands frequently with soap and water. And do not touch your face!

Coughing, sneezing

Cough or sneeze into your bent elbow, not your hands or into a Kleenex.

Cleaning your home

Frequently clean toilet seats, light switches, door knobs and bedside tables. These are the items that are most frequently touched. Phones, computers and other devices should be wiped down with alcohol prep wipes (70% alcohol).

Social distancing

When Covid-19 Coronavirus is spreading in a community, it is important that people avoid large gatherings. This often includes school closures and closures of theatres, sports facilities etc. Droplets can fall up to 2 meters (6 ½ feet) from the mouth of an infected person. It makes sense that an infected person wears a mask to retain larger droplets with viruses, but the virus is small enough to directly penetrate a regular mask. The recommendation right now is that people who are self-isolating, but have no symptoms do not wear a mask. Masks are in short supply worldwide.

Self-quarantining

Many countries also recommend that all overseas travellers who come back home should voluntarily self-quarantine themselves for 14 days and watch for symptoms. The main two symptoms are a high fever and a persistent cough. Take your temperature once or twice daily when in self-quarantine. Make sure you have a friend bring you food items and whatever you need from a grocery store. If you are on regular medicine, talk to your pharmacist how this can be home delivered or picked up by a friend.

Vaccine development against Covid-19 Coronavirus

Vaccines against Covid-19 Coronavirus are still one year or more away from mass production. In April 2020 one of the vaccine manufacturer, Moderna will start testing on humans in the US. But it will take until next year before this vaccine will be available to everybody.

Another approach to help patients with Covid-19 Coronavirus infection is a plasma-derived hyperimmunoglobulin therapy.  Antibodies from patients who recently recovered from a Coronavirus infection are the basis for this treatment. Takeda, Japan’s largest drug manufacturer, announced on March 4, 2020 that it would develop a hyperimmunoglobulin against Covid-19 Coronavirus.  Recently recovered patients have specific antibodies in their blood, which the company can recover from their plasma. When physicians inject the recovery plasma into patients with a positive test against Covid-19 Coronavirus, their recovery accelerates and the course of the infection is much milder. This new therapy was dubbed “TAK-888”. However, testing requires still many more month of further research to ensure it is safe.

Why does Italy have high Corona death rates?

In the March 18, 2020 issue of the German Magazine stern.de this question was posed. There are 31,500 Italians with the Coronavirus infection so far. 2503 people died from the Covid-19 Coronavirus. This translates into a mortality rate of around 8%, which is more than double of average rate of in other countries. For comparison, here are the death rates in other countries: China 4%, South Korea 1% and Germany 0.26%. Why these tremendous differences?

Low testing rates

Scientists believe that the policy in Italy to only test patients with symptoms suppresses the number of reported infected patients. This leads to unreported cases and falsely reporting higher Corona death rates. In South Korea where mortality rates are low, physicians did 3692 tests for Covid-19 per a million people up to March 8, 2020. In contrast, health professionals in Italy did only 826 Corona tests per million people. This leads to underreporting of infected people, causes more transmissions and higher death rates. Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University said: “If we have 3,500 confirmed cases in the U.S., you might be looking at 35,000 in reality”.

Physicians in the US do not test enough people for Covid-19, and like in Italy this will lead to much higher infection rates as assumed to occur in the beginning.

Seniors are at higher risk for mortality from Covid-19 Coronavirus

According a report from the UN in 2015 there were 28.6% of the Italian population were 60 years or older. In South Korea 18.5% of People were older than 60 at the same time. Seniors have other underlying diseases like type 2 diabetes, emphysema, heart disease and others. When patients with these conditions get Covid-19 Coronavirus, the mortality is higher. Children and people below the age of 60 may have clinically undetectable disease, and only a Covid-19 test would show it, if they were positive.

Coping with Covid-19 Coronavirus

Coping with Covid-19 Coronavirus

Conclusion

Vitamin D3 has long recognition as a stimulant of the immune system. We now know that high doses of vitamin D3 release two polypeptides, cathelicidin and defensins. They have antibacterial and antiviral actions. Several physicians have developed a mega vitamin D3 approach when a cold or flu just starts to hit you. An adult should then take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for 3 days. In many cases it will cut the cold/flu short within 48 to 72 hours. Dr. Schwalfenberg said that “one-time doses of vitamin D at this level have been used safely and have never been shown to be toxic.”

Inflammation from Covid-19 Coronavirus

Any flu virus, including the coronavirus varieties, cause a lot of inflammation. When the inflammation reaches the lungs (inflammation of the air sacs or alveoli) a lot of patients die because they cannot get enough air. But with the use of mega vitamin D3 doses we have a powerful tool to prevent the further spread of the virus. If you take this on the first or second day of the flu, you can prevent the further spread of the coronavirus into the lungs. The reason is the release of cathelicidin and defensins from the action of vitamin D3. These polypeptides have antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Vaccine development

Vaccine development is still a year away from being available. In the meantime, high dose vitamin D3 therapy is available and is cheap.

Most importantly, help stop the spread by being meticulous about your hygiene, as mentioned before. Also, adjust your life style by staying away from larger crowds. You will not hang out in bars and clubs, and instead of going out for meals, prepare your own or arrange for food delivery. Panic never helped in crisis situations; common sense does!

More information

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Dec
07
2019

The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

In the first place, preliminary experiments indicate that the use of oncolytic viruses for cancer treatment may become a reality. There are several lines of research that point to the fact that oncolytic viruses can make a difference in treating incurable cancer patients.

Notably, Canadian researchers had reported in 2011 that oncolytic viruses created by genetically modifying smallpox vaccine viruses would enter tumor cells of patients, but not damage normal cells. Specifically, a high percentage of the end stage patients responded with tumor regression.

Shortly after Mayo Clinic physicians were desperate when two patients with end stage multiple myeloma, a vicious bone tumor, did not respond to chemotherapy. Significantly, they tried something unconventional: high doses of the measles vaccine in an attempt to stimulate the immune system. Here is an overview from 2014 that shows that many different cancers respond to various immunological approaches.

Study from Holland regarding end stage melanoma patients

Here is a small human study involving end-stage melanoma patients treated with the oncolytic virus T-VEC combined with pembrolizumab (Keytruda). It is important to realize that Keytruda helps to reactivate a T-cell response to the cancer cells. In this case the cancer cells absorb the oncolytic virus (T-VEC), but it leaves normal cells alone. Inside the cancer cells the oncolytic virus multiplies and destroys the cancer cells. In this 2017 study 21 patients with terminal, nonresectable melanoma received treatment with T-VEC and Keytruda. Specifically, 62% of the patients showed an objective response to the treatment. Moreover, 33% fulfilled the criteria of an immune-related response. In the past terminal patients like these had a 0% response to radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

History of research about oncolytic viruses

To begin with, in 1912 rabies virus treatment against cervical carcinoma was a first attempt to treat cancer. Researchers conducted many experiments between 1950 and 1970 with wild type or naturally attenuated viruses. This included, for example, hepatitis A and B viruses. In 1991 cancer researchers developed the concept of genetically engineered oncolytic viruses. Today cancer researchers know that the protection mechanisms in most cancer cells have deficiencies. This involves the interferon‐beta signal pathway. Having said this, there is an opportunity to let oncolytic viruses destroy cancer cells, while normal cells stay unaffected. An oncolytic virus that cancer experts use in human cancers is the genetically engineered herpes simplex virus type I (HSV‐1). Others that cancer researchers developed have strange names like T‐Vec, G47∆, JX594, CG0070 and Reolysin.

Various cancers that researchers treated with oncolytic viruses

Here are a few examples of cancers where researchers used oncolytic viruses to exert a significant therapeutic effect.

Glioblastoma

Glioblastoma is a deadly form of a brain tumor, which has a high rate of mortality. Researchers have investigated new avenues to treat this cancer. Researchers tested the genetically engineered dendritic vaccine. Initial clinical trials showed significant effectiveness compared to non-treated controls. In a large phase 3 clinical trial 331 patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma received treatment at the time of neurosurgery with dendritic cell vaccine. 30.2% of the patients were still alive and doing well after 3 1/3 years. Without the added vaccination procedure all of these patients would have died in the past because of the aggressiveness of the glioblastoma.

Multiple myeloma

Researchers could cure multiple myeloma and other cancers by using the measles vaccine. Here is a report by the popular press about two women who had multiple myeloma. One woman got cured by high doses of a measles vaccine. The other women experienced some relief, but did not survive.

This publication explains that oncolytic viral therapy of cancer is a lot more complicated than originally thought.

Prostate cancer

Researchers found that vaccines against prostate cancer were effective with the combination of oncolytic virus therapy with regular anti-cancer treatments. But oncolytic virus therapy alone has a poorer prognosis than a combination of chemotherapy or radiotherapy with oncolytic virus therapy.

Cervical cancer

The high-risk HPV16 strain most often causes cervical cancer. The HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine targets patients with previous exposure to HPV16. However, researchers have noticed that in some cases a phenomenon called the “HPV immune escape” has allowed in some vaccinated women to still develop cervical cancer. Now a group of researchers are investigating how the vaccine could be improved by finding out how the immune system is being tricked in these cases by the HPV virus to bypass the antibodies of the vaccine.

Pancreatic cancer

This cancer is very difficult to detect in the early stages, and as a result the outlook for chemotherapy or radiotherapy is extremely poor. Researchers have used several approaches as an alternative to conventional therapy. Immunotherapy is an option. Mayo clinic researchers have already announced that the measles vaccine approach will likely be applicable to pancreatic cancer treatment as well in the near future. However, other clinical trials are on the way to use alternative vaccination procedures.

Neuroblastoma, glioma and melanoma

This link shows that the FDA has accepted engineered oncolytic herpes virus (engineered to secrete GM-CSF) as a treatment against melanoma. Other approaches with engineered bacteria can affect neuroblastoma and glioma.

Survival data using oncolytic viruses for cancer treatment

Cancer researchers have completed a number of smaller clinical trials at this point. One of them describes end stage melanoma (stage III and IV) where the only treatment was with the oncolytic virus T‐Vec. The overall response rate compared to the control, which was only 5.7%, the experimental group with T-Vec was 26.4%. This is considered a good response rate given that we are dealing with end stage melanoma patients.

Mechanism of how oncolytic viruses stimulate the immune system to overcome various cancers

As mentioned above oncolytic viruses multiply in the cancer, once they have been incorporated. This leads to cancer cell death. It exposes the dead cancer tissue to the immune system. What helps in the process is that inhibitory proteins from the cancer cells that used to inhibit the immune system are no longer provided by the dead cancer cells. The end result is that the immune system mounts a formidable response against the cancer cells through killer T cells. This immune response also affects remote metastases of the same histological cancer type. This review article summarizes how oncolytic viruses work for cancer cell destruction and how this method can be combined with other treatment modalities.

The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

Conclusion

Currently various cancer centers are involved with clinical trials in humans to test the power of oncolytic viruses. What cancer researchers have learnt is that oncolytic viruses are a useful tool to kill cancer cells. But the immune system of cancer patients is in a suppressed state. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is a medication that will stimulate the immune system by stimulating killer T cells to destroy cancer cells. The combined effect of killing cancer cells with oncolytic viruses and stimulating the immune system is the big news. This has been the breakthrough that cancer researchers have been waiting for. Now several clinical trials are on the way where survival rates for cancer patients given the new combination therapy are assessed.

Oncolytic virus therapy here to stay

It is a treatment which is no longer a thought model with animal experiments. Well known medical centers are using it in patients, and as the results become more obvious, it will very likely become a new treatment modality for cancer.

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Jan
31
2013

Staying Healthy During Exotic Travel

A study of 82,825 ill travelers from Europe, North America, Israel, Japan, Australia and New Zealand was published who were interested in staying healthy during exotic travel. They had traveled the world between June 1996 and August 2011. The data was based on the GeoSentinel surveillance network database. There were 3,655 patients (4.4%) who were seriously sick with one of 13 tropical diseases. There were 13 deaths (=0.4%), 10 of which were from malaria. Two died from melioidosis. This is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium found in soil in Southeast Asia (including Thailand, Laos, southern China, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma and Vietnam), Taiwan and northern Australia. One person died from severe dengue. The interesting fact is that there was not a single case of Ebola virus, although this is a highly publicized and lethal illness in Africa. The majority of travelers sustained malaria and typhoid.

The tropical diseases were either due to viral illnesses, bacterial infections or protozoan infections.

Frequent viral illnesses encountered by visitors to Asia were dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS); avian influenza, Lassa fever as well as other tropical hemorrhagic fevers, Japanese encephalitis including other tropical encephalitis cases, Rift Valley fever and yellow fever.

This is a list of the bacterial infections that were reported: Anthrax, Carrion’s disease (=Bartonella bacilliformis), epidemic typhus, leptospirosis, melioidosis, murine typhus, paratyphoid fever, plague, relapsing fever, scrub typhus, spotted fever group rickettsioses and typhoid fever.

An interesting side-note is that even in familiar places like Hawaii leptospirosis is re-emerging as this link shows. So, it is important for visitors to Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii (Waipio valley) to refrain from swimming in streams or natural ponds and to not expose your face to cascading waterfalls as leptospirosis can enter through the eyes, the nose, the mouth and scratches on the skin.

Finally, the following protozoan infections were found frequently: East African sleeping sickness, falciparum malaria and Plasmodium knowlesi malaria.

Staying Healthy During Exotic Travel

Staying Healthy During Exotic Travel

Each travel region has its special infection characteristics. With travel to Central America infectious diseases ranked in decreasing frequency like this: typhoid fever, leptospirosis, falciparum malaria and paratyphoid fever. In the Caribbean falciparum malaria was followed by typhoid fever, leptospirosis and paratyphoid fever. In South America the highest on the list was again falciparum malaria, followed by typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever and leptospirosis. In Sub Saharan Africa the highest number of falciparum malaria cases were registered (2633 of them), followed by 42 cases of typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever and leptospirosis. In the Middle East only one case of falciparum malaria, one case of typhoid fever and 2 cases of paratyphoid fever were reported. In contrast there were many more infections reported in South Central Asia (India): 286 cases of typhoid fever, followed by parathyroid fever, falciparum malaria and leptospirosis. All of the cases of typhoid fever and parathyroid fever in India were adequately treated with antibiotics and no deaths resulted from that. This is an example where no vaccine is available for prevention, but swift medical treatment could help immediately when an infection had occurred.

In South East Asia (Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia) leptospirosis was on top, followed by typhoid fever, falciparum malaria and parathyroid fever. North East Asia (Korea, Mongolia), had only 3 cases of typhoid fever and 1 case of paratyphoid fever. Oceania (Polynesia) reported 26 cases of falciparum malaria, followed by paratyphoid fever and typhoid fever.

Several interesting observations were made with regard to this study.

  1. Most patients with travel acquired tropical illnesses presented within less than 17 days at the doctor’s office at home and 91% of them had developed a fever.
  2. The spectrum of the tropical disease that was diagnosed and treated varied according to the geographic destination where the traveler had been, which is consistent with the observations mentioned above (different distribution of tropical diseases depending on which area was traveled). Visitors to West Africa had a high rate of falciparum malaria, visitors to India sustained largely enteric fevers; and leptospirosis,  scrub typhus and murine typhus were the dominant tropical diseases for visitors to South East Asia.
  3. Males were found to be less diligent in using chemoprophylaxis for malaria prior to their travel than females. Overall only a minority had attended a travel clinic prior to their travel for immunizations and chemoprophylaxis for preventable tropical disease such as malaria.
  4. Other global life-threatening diseases like meningitis, other forms of septicemia, severe bacterial pneumonia and legionnaires also have to be considered as they occurred in roughly 30% of returning travelers.
  5. Malaria was the largest percentage of the tropical diseases that travelers brought home and 67% of all cases were male patients. They were mostly visiting West Africa where they acquired malaria (typically from Nigeria,  Ghana and the Ivory Coast). As mentioned they accounted for 10 of the 13 deaths.

The authors recommend that travelers should prepare themselves for trips to the tropics and subtropics, preferable visiting one of the travelers’ clinics. The recommended procedures should be followed meticulously. Not all of the diseases can be prevented, but if the traveler turns sick, they should seek medical advice as soon as possible in the country where they travel as these physicians often have special expertise in these tropical diseases.

One of the comments of the study was that often people visit relatives and friends in an area where tropical disease exists without any chemoprophylaxis or vaccinations beforehand. The visitors were under the impression that prior living in the area as a child would still protect them now during the travel as an adult, which is not the case. This can be prevented by visiting a travel clinic well before the planned trip, so there is enough time for vaccinations and possible blood tests.  

More information on:

1. Traveler’s diarrhea:  http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/parasites/travelers-diarrhea/

2. Parasites: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/parasites/