Creative and Inexpensive Solution for Ventilator Shortages

“Mechanical ventilation is the main supportive treatment for critically ill patients” infected with novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), according to a February 2020 study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.1

But severe shortages of these life-saving machines have become a common concern echoed by hospitals across the U.S., with medical professionals and government officials alike calling for increased production of this critical resource.

Ventilators help people breathe when they can’t do it on their own. Sometimes referred to as “breathing machines,” ventilators help pump oxygen into your body and carbon dioxide out via a tube that goes into your mouth and windpipe in a process called intubation. The ventilator may automatically take a set number of “breaths” each minute or be programmed to kick in if you don’t take a breath in a predetermined amount of time.2

Either way, the machines are crucial for helping some patients survive until their lungs begin working on their own. In the case of COVID-19, it may lead to inflammation in your airways or fluid in your lungs, requiring mechanical ventilation to pump oxygen into your body. By some estimates, has many as 25% of people with COVID-19 become critically ill, and may need a ventilator to help them breathe.3

If ventilator shortages continue, and the number of people who need them at one time increase, doctors may be faced with making unthinkable choices about who gets to live or die based on who gets the ventilator and who does not. Creative solutions have emerged that may help, however, including the use of a converted snorkeling mask and converting ventilators to service more than one patient at a time.

Emergency Ventilator Mask Made From Snorkeling Mask

Isinnova, an Italian 3D printing company, was contacted by Dr. Renato Favero, a former head physician of the Gardone Valtrompia Hospital, with an idea to overcome the shortage of hospital Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, masks for sub-intensive therapy.4

Isinnova has previously used 3D printing to make ventilator valves for local hospitals, leading Favero to seek them out for a plan to create an emergency ventilator mask by modifying a snorkeling mask already on the market.

While full ventilators breathe both in and out for a patient, CPAP machines, which are often used to treat severe sleep apnea, regulate the pressure and level of oxygen that reaches the lungs, using mild air pressure to keep breathing airways open.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the treatment “involves using a CPAP machine that includes a mask or other device that fits over your nose or your nose and mouth, straps to position the mask, a tube that connects the mask to the machine’s motor, and a motor that blows air into the tube.”5

Isinnova contacted Decathlon, the producer of the snorkeling Easybreath mask, and was able to create the emergency mask in just three days. “We had to do it very quickly because it was a matter of saving lives,” Isinnova engineer Alessandro Romaioli told Fox News. “We didn’t do it as a usual project, where we would have had time to check it three, four times. We just had to do it as quick as we could.”6

Isinnova initially printed about 50 special valves that they call the “Charlotte valve” designed to guarantee the mask’s connection to the ventilator, and tested it out at the Chiari Hospital. Isinnova explained:7

“The prototype as a whole has been tested on one of our colleagues directly inside the Chiari Hospital, connected to the ventilator body, and has proven to be correctly working. The hospital itself was enthusiastic about the idea and decided to test the device on a patient in need. The testing was successful.”

3D Design Free for All to Access


Isinnova has posted the design for its patented Charlotte valve on its website, stating that they want it to be available to all hospitals in need of it.

“Health care facilities in difficulty will be able to purchase the Decathlon mask … and get in contact with 3d printers who could make the piece and provide it,” the company stated. “We clarify that our initiative is totally nonprofit; we will not obtain any royalties on the idea of the link, nor on the sales of Decathlon masks.”8

While neither the mask nor the valve link are certified, they are designed for use in health care facilities that are in need of emergency medical supplies. So far, they’ve received feedback from doctors stating that the redesigned masks have helped to save lives. Romaioli told Fox News:

“The feedback has all been positive, not because it’s the biggest therapy in the world, but because they can apply some therapy to people that they haven’t been able to help before. All hospitals are going to run out of breathing masks, biomedical or certified, but these homemade masks can treat some patients that they couldn’t before.”9

Converting Ventilators to Treat Multiple Patients


Typically, one ventilator is used to treat one patient, but in extreme times such as a pandemic, some clever doctors have figured out ways to modify them so they can treat more than one person at a time, potentially doubling, tripling or even quadrupling the number of lives they can save.

Data published in a pilot study in 2016 by doctors Greg Neyman and Charelene Irvin Babcock found that a single ventilator could quickly be modified, using readily available plastic tubing, to ventilate four simulated adults for a limited time — about 12 hours.10

The doctors concluded, “While further study is necessary, this pilot study suggests significant potential for the expanded use of a single ventilator during cases of disaster surge involving multiple casualties with respiratory failure.”11 Babcock, who is now an emergency medicine physician in Detroit, Michigan, explains how to use the technique in the video above.

She says she was able to create the four-way adapter in 15 minutes using supplies at her hospital. And though she says caution is warranted, since the technique has only been studied in simulated test lungs and animals, not in humans, “it’s probably better than nothing in dire circumstances.”12

In fact, while it hasn’t been tested in humans and is an “off-label use of the ventilator,” the Neyman/Babcock technique has been used in humans.

Emergency room doctor Kevin Menes used the technique in 2017, after a mass shooting in Las Vegas flooded the emergency room with critically injured patients and they ran out of ventilators. By matching up two people with similar lung sizes and capacity, he was able to save lives by converting single ventilators to work for more than one person.13

Since Babcock shared the video of how to do the technique, Dr. Saud Anwar, a pulmonologist with the Eastern Connecticut Health Network, put it to action at Manchester Memorial Hospital and tested it on four simulated lungs, with promising success.

“One can get four patients on a single ventilator but it has to be done in an extremely focused manner,” he told Connecticut Magazine. “The catch is that the four patients need to be of a similar size with similar illness and similar lung physiology.”14

Nine Patients on One Ventilator?

Another doctor, Dr. Alain Gauthier, an anesthetist at the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Ontario, was also inspired by Babcock’s how-to video. In about 10 minutes, he rigged one ventilator to treat nine people.15 The possibility of increasing ventilators’ capacity to treat multiple patients may not be fool proof, but it’s encouraging when many states are fearing shortages.

One potential concern is cross-contamination between patients, but filters on the machine may help with that.16 There’s also a question of how the method will fare among people who need to be ventilated for longer periods of time. Gregory Barefoot, a physician’s assistant (PA) and former chief PA at the Trauma and Surgical Critical Care service in Columbia, South Carolina, told Vice:

“Some of the patients that are suffering from COVID-19 are having to be ventilated for over a week in many cases … Ideally, the patients that would be grouped together would be of similar disease pattern, body habitus and with similar premorbid health status … a mode of ventilation should fit the patient, not the other way around.

Each person will interact with a ventilator differently and it is hard to individualize care among four patients with one ventilator.”17

How Many Ventilators Are in the US?

A 2010 study surveyed 4,305 U.S. hospitals that accounted for 83.8% of U.S. intensive care unit hospital beds at that time. There were 52,118 mechanical ventilators owned by the hospitals, with researchers estimating that, overall, there are 62,188 full-feature mechanical ventilators owned by U.S. acute care hospitals.18

They also estimated that there are another 98,738 devices other than full-feature ventilators at U.S. hospitals, and noted wide variation in numbers of ventilators across states.

The New York Times, meanwhile, estimated the number of ventilators in U.S. hospitals to be 160,000, along with an additional 12,700 in the National Strategic Stockpile, which includes medical supplies held by the U.S. government for emergencies.19 The America Hospital Association, meanwhile, has suggested that up to 960,000 Americans may need ventilator support due to COVID-19.20

“The reality is there is absolutely not enough,” Andreas Wieland, the chief executive of Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, which manufacturers ventilators, told The New York Times. “We see that in Italy, we saw that in China, we see it in France and other countries. We could sell I don’t know how many.”21

US Knew About Ventilator Shortages

Ventilator manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand, and efforts are underway to ramp up supplies. Ford reached an agreement with GE Healthcare to reportedly build 50,000 units within 100 days and work up to producing 30,000 per month, but production isn’t slated to start until the week of April 20, 2020.22

GM has also announced plans to partner with Ventec Life Systems to increase production of ventilators, but the question remains as to why the U.S. wasn’t prepared with enough ventilators for a pandemic such as this.

In a 2009 planning report from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), it was estimated that a severe influenza pandemic could infect 90 million people, sending almost 1.5 million to intensive care units with 750,000 people requiring mechanical ventilation.23

In a 2003 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, it was also noted that “few hospitals have adequate medical equipment, such as the ventilators that are often needed for respiratory infections such as SARS, to handle the large increases in the number of patients that may result.”24,25 The U.S. even tried to build more ventilators more than a decade ago, but failed. The Times reported:26

“The plan was to build a large fleet of inexpensive portable devices to deploy in a flu pandemic or another crisis. Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway.

And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators.

That failure delayed the development of an affordable ventilator by at least half a decade, depriving hospitals, states and the federal government of the ability to stock up. The federal government started over with another company in 2014, whose ventilator was approved only last year [2019] and whose products have not yet been delivered.”

Resourceful doctors thinking outside of the box and rigging ventilators to treat multiple patients may therefore end up being among the many heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can You Clean Coronavirus Off Your Food?

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, I’ve covered advice for how to effectively clean your hands and disinfect surfaces around your home, but what about food, like takeout and fresh produce? Could eating contaminated food cause you to contract the illness?

According to News Channel 8,1 Virginia police are “warning of a ‘disturbing trend’ after a group of teens were caught on camera coughing on produce at a grocery store, then posting it on social media.”

Shenanigans like this appears to be behind some of the fears and warnings about food contamination that are now in circulation. In a March 19, 2020, Facebook post, Purcellville police stated:2

“We are asking for parental assistance in monitoring your teenagers’ activities, as well as their social media posts to avoid the increase of any further such incidents.”

Conventional Food Safety Rules Apply

The good news is, evidence suggests there’s little cause for concern, provided you follow conventionally accepted food safety guidelines. As noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:3

“Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.”

Similarly, in a March 14, 2020, article in The Atlantic,4 epidemiologist Stephen Morse from Columbia University noted that “cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking,” and that holds true even if the person preparing the food is ill.

The reason for that is because high heat kills most pathogens, including coronavirus. Ideally, a sick person would not be doing the cooking for others, but even if that were the case, or in cases where you might not know you’re a carrier, the sensible thing to do is to make sure you don’t cough or sneeze on or near the food.

In “Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide,”5 J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, chief culinary adviser for Serious Eats, answers a range of food safety related questions based on what is currently known. Importantly, there is (as of yet) no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 via food or food packaging, according to the FDA.6,7

Food Packaging Is Not a Suspected Disease Vector

While preliminary findings suggest the virus can remain viable on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and stainless steel or plastic for as long as three days,8 if we are to believe the CDC,9 the risk of contracting COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose is minimal — at least far lower than droplet infection (meaning you inhale the airborne virus).

“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the CDC notes.10

As suggested by Lopez-Alt,11 a sensible way to minimize any risk associated with contaminated food packages, however potentially small, would be to transfer the food to a clean container and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after discarding the original container.

Cooked and Raw Food Are Unlikely Sources of Infection

As mentioned, heat will kill any pathogens present in the food being cooked, and reheating takeout is one avenue you can take if you’re concerned. Research12 on SARS-CoV-1 (the virus responsible for SARS) found the virus was inactivated by temperatures above 149 degrees F (65 degrees C) after three minutes, and preliminary evidence13 suggests SARS-CoV-1 (COVID-19) is highly sensitive to heat.

For reheating and heat-sterilizing recommendations, see Lopez-Alt’s article, “Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide.”14

Raw food is also unlikely to cause COVID-19, even if it’s contaminated by a cough or sneeze. The reason for this is because respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 reproduce in your respiratory tract,15 not your digestive tract, which is where your food goes. The two are separate.

And, while the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been found in feces, there’s no evidence suggesting it can cause illness by going through the digestive tract. Nor has there been any reports of fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 (which could occur if a food handler fails to properly wash their hands after going to the bathroom), according to the CDC.16

Also keep in mind that viruses require a live host, and cannot replicate and multiply on food. Rather, the viral load will decrease over time. Even eating contaminated food with your bare hands is unlikely to cause a problem. Lopez-Alt writes:17

“What about this scenario: a worker coughs on a cutting board then assembles a hamburger directly on that board before placing it in a takeout container. You then come home and eat that burger with your bare hands, then pick your nose, or do something else that deposits the virus along your respiratory tract.

In this situation, the viral load has been diluted several times. First when it was transferred from the board to the burger bun. Next, more viral load was shed when the bun was placed in the takeout container. It is diluted again when you pick up the burger before interacting with your face in inadvisable ways.

While he didn’t rule out the possibility of picking up the disease this way, [North Carolina State University food safety specialist Ben] Chapman described it as ‘a moonshot, even before you touch your face.’ Using clean silverware when possible and washing your hands after eating and before touching your face further minimizes that risk.”

Avoid Washing Produce With Soap

All of that said, it’s still advisable to wash your produce before cooking or eating it raw. As noted by People magazine,18 soap — while effective for killing viruses — is not appropriate for most fresh produce, although you could use it for some things. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, director of Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, told People:

“Using soap has never really been recommended for fresh produce before, and our recommendation has still been to use water and rinse … I don’t have any evidence that it will for sure reduce risk of the virus because we don’t have the research.

There is almost no evidence that implicates that food as a vehicle for causing this disease. The evidence we have is still largely person-to-person transmission.”

Similarly, infectious disease expert Dr. William Haseltine, president of ACCESS Health International, told the magazine, “I wouldn’t wash your lettuce with soapy water, but something like a potato or an apple or a plum you can wash, the outside of a mango you can wash.”

Also keep in mind that while it may seem innocuous to add a few squirts of hand or dish soap to your produce with the intention of removing pathogens, of the 232 hand-washing detergents listed on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Healthy Cleaning database,19 58 scored a failing grade. Examples of toxic ingredients found in dish soap include:20,21

Cocamide DEA — Suspicions include cancer, chronic aquatic toxicity, acute aquatic toxicity.

DMDM hydantoin — Suspicions include chemical release of formaldehyde and irritation of the skin, eyes or lungs.

Ethanolamine — Suspicions include respiratory effects, general systemic/organ effects, chronic aquatic toxicity, nervous system effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage.

Formaldehyde — Suspicions include cancer, general systemic and organ effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage, acute aquatic toxicity.

Sodium borate — Suspicions include developmental, endocrine and reproductive effects, skin irritation, allergies and damage, and respiratory effects.

Sulfuric acid — Suspicions include cancer, respiratory effects, skin irritation and allergies.

Triclosan — Suspicions include aquatic and general ecotoxicity, developmental, endocrine and reproductive effects, cancer and immune system effects.

What About Bleach?

Washing your produce with bleach is another tactic that is likely unnecessary, and may react with the organic material in the food to create disinfection byproducts that are far more toxic than chlorine. As reported by MSN,22 “experts advise against putting bleach on anything you’re going to eat … and say washing with warm water works just as well with fewer potential risks.” The article continues:

“In a recent New York Times California Today newsletter, a food safety expert suggested that Californians facing ‘shelter in place’ orders should take extra precautions when making essential trips to the grocery store.

This advice includes tips on how to sanitize grocery items, including using a very diluted bleach solution (one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) to mist produce, and then let it air dry before eating.

Other experts say this isn’t necessary, and may not even be safe. It’s unlikely that you’ll be infected by the virus via your groceries, according to Dr. Tamika Sims, the Director of Food Technology Communications at the International Food Information Council …

Bleach could … present health risks of its own. Food safety guides23 advise against using bleach or detergent on anything you’re going to eat. ‘Bleach is not meant to be used to clean any foods or food products. The ingestion of any amount of bleach can be a major health hazard,’ Sims said …

If you are concerned about your fruits and vegetables … just cook them, or wash them thoroughly with warm water … ‘CDC has told us that this virus denatures (breaks down) relatively easily with warm water and with heat,’ she said.”

How to Wash Your Produce

Speaking to Delish.com, CarrieAnn Arias, VP of marketing at Naturipe Farms says:24

“Washing your fruits and vegetables under running water is always recommended, even if it has a peel you will be discarding like our avocados. Don’t use soap, detergents or bleach solutions. When it comes to berries, you will want to rinse in cool running water before serving.

Raw veggies and fruits are safe to eat, especially right now. They are packed with nutrition and essential vitamins that can aid in boosting our energy and immune system.”

Ken Rubin, chief culinary officer at Rouxbe culinary school, echoes Arias’ advice, saying:25

“The best practices for washing fruits and vegetables has not changed or been revised in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The same principles that have always been true still apply. If you are uneasy or uncertain, just buy varieties of produce that you can either peel at home (like bananas, oranges, mangoes or avocados) or choose products that you will cook.”

Those “best practices” are simple indeed, and just like Arias points out. As explained by Barbara Ingham, a food science extension specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison:26

“Wash all whole fruits and vegetables before preparing them — even if the skin or rind will not be eaten. This prevents pathogens from being transferred from the rind or skin to the inside of the fruit or vegetable when it is cut …

Wash fruits and vegetables under clean, running water in a clean sink. Fresh fruits and vegetables should not be soaked in water. Do not use detergents, soaps or bleach to wash produce. These products may change the flavor and could be poisonous.

If the fruits and vegetables are firm (such as potatoes or melons), scrub them with a clean, sanitized fruit/vegetable brush. For soft fruits and vegetables (tomatoes), gently rub them with your hands to loosen the dirt. Also remove the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage before washing them.

To wash berries, parsley and greens, put them in a clean colander and spray them with a kitchen sink sprayer. Or, gently turn the produce as you hold it under running water. Be sure to turn and gently shake the colander as you wash the produce.”

Can You Use Vinegar?

A safe alternative that can help reduce your exposure to foodborne pathogens — but not likely viruses — is to wash your produce with white vinegar and water in a 1 to 3 ratio. Let the produce rest for 30 minutes and then wash lightly under cold running water.27

The acid in the vinegar can cross bacterial cell membranes, killing the cells,28 but research suggests it doesn’t provide much protection against viruses. As noted on Talk CLEAN to Me, a blog by experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention:29

“… organic acid disinfectants … typically lack a broad spectrum of kill … You may be thinking ‘Hey, wait! Vinegar and acetic acid have been used for hundreds of years as methods of disinfection and sanitization.’

However, it is important to note that these only show strength against relatively easy to kill organisms such as pseudomonas. There is no current data that concludes that organic acids bolster a broad spectrum of kill.”

One type of vinegar that does appear to be effective against viruses is malt vinegar (made from malted barley grain, which is also used to make beer; a second fermentation turns the ale into vinegar30).

According to the 2010 article, “Effectiveness of Common Household Cleaning Agents in Reducing the Viability of Human Influenza A/H1N1,” published in PLOS ONE,31 10% malt vinegar “rapidly and completely” inactivates influenza viruses.

Major Error Found in Vaccine Aluminum Safety Calculation

When evaluating the safety of vaccines, adjuvants must be taken into account. The most commonly used vaccine adjuvant is aluminum,1 a demonstrated neurotoxin that is added to certain vaccines to increase your immune response and, with that, theoretically a higher response of protective antibodies.

Despite aluminum’s known health risks, it’s widely suggested that aluminum in vaccines is safe, including for newborn babies, but a math error in a key U.S. Food and Drug Administration study2 — revealed by scientists at Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) — raises new safety concerns.

When the aluminum adjuvant was first approved for use in vaccines more than 90 years ago, it was approved based on demonstration of efficacy — safety studies weren’t performed. A 2002 document from the FDA even states:3

“Historically, the non-clinical safety assessment for preventive vaccines has often not included toxicity studies in animal models. This is because vaccines have not been viewed as inherently toxic, and vaccines are generally administered in limited dosages over months or even years.”

That being said, in 2002, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a study on the effect of medical aluminum exposure on public health in order to estimate the infant body burden of aluminum in infants following a standard vaccination schedule during the first year of life.4

They found that, while the body burden of aluminum from vaccinations exceeded that from dietary sources, it was still below the minimal risk level established by ATSDR. In 2011, FDA scientists updated the 2002 study with a current pediatric vaccination schedule and other updated parameters,5 and that is where PIC found what is described as a “crucial math error.”

Error Suggests Aluminum in Childhood Vaccines May Not Be Safe

The 2011 paper compared aluminum exposure from vaccines in infants to the ATSDR safety limit of oral aluminum. They concluded at the time:6

“Using these updated parameters we found that the body burden of aluminum from vaccines and diet throughout an infant’s first year of life is significantly less than the corresponding safe body burden of aluminum modeled using the regulatory MRL.

We conclude that episodic exposures to vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvant continue to be extremely low risk to infants and that the benefits of using vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant outweigh any theoretical concerns.”

In an erratum published by PIC, however, it’s noted that the study based its calculations on 0.78% of oral aluminum being absorbed into the bloodstream instead of the value of 0.1% used by the ATSDR.

“As a result,” PIC noted, “the FDA paper assumed that nearly 8 (0.78%/0.1%) times more aluminum can safely enter the bloodstream, and this led the authors to incorrectly conclude that aluminum exposure from vaccines was well below the safety limit.”7 Christopher Shaw, a professor at the University of British Columbia who has studied the effects of injected aluminum, explained in a news release:8

“We knew that the [2011] Mitkus et al. paper modeling aluminum clearance had to be inaccurate since it was assuming that injected aluminum kinetics were the same as the kinetics of aluminum acquired through diet.

Now, in addition, we see that they did their modeling based on using the incorrect level of aluminum absorption. What is particularly striking is that despite all these errors, since 2011, Mitkus et al. is used by CDC and other entities as the basis for claiming that aluminum adjuvants are safe.”

Serious Concerns Over Aluminum Adjuvants

In 2011, Shaw and Canadian scientist Lucija Tomljenovic published a paper in Current Medicinal Chemistry questioning whether aluminum vaccine adjuvants are safe. They cited experimental research that showed aluminum adjuvants may cause serious immunological disorders in humans and pose a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications.

“In our opinion, the possibility that vaccine benefits may have been overrated and the risk of potential adverse effects underestimated, has not been rigorously evaluated in the medical and scientific community,” they wrote.9

In one of their studies, mice were injected with aluminum at a dose meant to correlate with that given to U.S. children through vaccines, and they spaced out the injections based on the mice’s developmental stages. What they found was that once the mice reached adulthood (which occurs at the age of 6 months), the treated mice had permanent behavioral impairments.

In addition to noting that aluminum adjuvants can persist in the body long-term and penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the adjuvants were found to trigger adverse neurobehavioral outcomes in the mice at vaccine-relevant exposures. “Efforts should be made to reduce Al [aluminum] exposure from vaccines,” they concluded.10

In another study, Shaw, Tomljenovic and colleagues suggested that aluminum may induce adverse neurological and immunological effects, and overstimulation of the immune system in early infancy via vaccinations could play a role in neurobehavioral disorders.11 In 2014, Tomljenovic and colleagues wrote:12

“There is now sufficient evidence from both human and animal studies showing that cumulative exposure to aluminium adjuvants is not as benign as previously assumed.

Given that vaccines are the only medical intervention that we attempt to deliver to every living human on earth and that by far the largest target population for vaccination are healthy children, a better appreciation and understanding of vaccine adjuvant risks appears warranted.”

Further, in an interview I conducted with Tomljenovic in 2015, she explained:

“There is a huge body of research that shows that if you overstimulate the immune system at the periphery, especially in the critical stage of early development, you are going to influence the brain in a negative way, and by doing so, you can create irreversible damage.

Again, this is research that is rarely discussed, because it really shows that there is reason to question the safety of the burden of vaccines given to infants.”

Problems Inherent to Adjuvants

Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History,” is among those who has raised concerns over the problems with not only aluminum but also adjuvants in general, since they’re intended to provoke an inflammatory immune response.

As noted by Humphries, who spoke on the subject of aluminum in vaccines in Tampere, Finland, in November 2015, “babies are programmed to be anti-inflammatory,” meaning the placenta and breast milk help “program” the child to maintain a noninflamed state.

In order to make these killed, subunit or toxoid vaccines work, an adjuvant must be used to sufficiently stir or aggravate the immune system into action. By so doing, vaccines “violate the natural programming of the baby’s immune system.”

Further, even if aluminum is removed from vaccines, the risk of immune system brain disorder remains — even if the new adjuvant is nontoxic. As explained by Tomljenovic in our interview, by overstimulating your immune system, you run the risk of breaking self-tolerance and leading to autoimmunity. Japanese researchers revealed this in a 2009 study on mice, concluding:13

“Systemic autoimmunity appears to be the inevitable consequence of over-stimulating the host’s immune ‘system’ by repeated immunization with antigen, to the levels that surpass system’s self-organized criticality.”

What’s more, without aluminum, a large number of vaccines would have to be eliminated since there are no viable alternatives. Perhaps this is why researchers looking into adverse events after immunization with an aluminum-containing vaccine wrote in 2004, “Despite a lack of good-quality evidence we do not recommend that any further research on this topic is undertaken.”14

Aluminum Linked to Alzheimer’s

In the 2002 ATSDR study, the researchers were clear about aluminum’s distribution pattern in the body, including the fact that it “distributes widely to the various body tissues,” reaching the kidneys, spleen, liver, heart, lymph and eventually the brain.15 Aluminum has a known ability to cross the blood-brain-barrier, so any aluminum in the blood can be transported into the brain.

Research has found a strong link between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with a genetic mutation that predisposes them to early onset of Alzheimer’s and more aggressive disease have universally high aluminum content in their brains.16 Aluminum may damage your brain function in a number of ways, including:17

  • Adversely influencing neuronal function and survival
  • Potentiating damaging redox activity
  • Disrupting intracellular calcium signaling that systematically wears down cellular defenses
  • Worsening the adverse effects of other heavy metals
  • Influencing gene expression

A 2010 paper also pointed out that aluminum salts “can increase levels of glial activation, inflammatory cytokines and amyloid precursor protein within the brain,” and, “Both normal brain aging and to a greater extent, Alzheimer’s disease are associated with elevated basal levels of markers for inflammation.”18

CDC Vaccine Schedule Leads to Greatest Aluminum Burden

Research published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology found the CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule — when adjusted for bodyweight — exposes children to a level of aluminum that is 15.9 times higher than the recommended “safe” level.19,20

The researchers pointed out that previous efforts to assess the aluminum burden created by vaccines were based on “whole-body clearance rates estimated from a study involving a single human subject.”

They also used an aluminum citrate solution that is not used in vaccines, which may affect the excretion rate. Further, infants have immature renal function, which will inhibit their ability to filter and excrete toxins in the first place. The researchers used three models in to estimate the expected acute and long-term whole-body accumulation of aluminum in children as follows:

  1. The CDC’s 2019 childhood vaccine schedule
  2. The CDC’s vaccine schedule modified to use low dose aluminum DTaP and aluminum-free Hib vaccines
  3. Dr. Paul Thomas’ “vaccine-friendly plan,”21 which recommends giving only one aluminum-containing vaccine per visit (max two) and delaying certain vaccinations

The CDC’s standard schedule resulted in the greatest expected aluminum burden in all model assumptions, while Thomas’ schedule resulted in the lowest.

Further research into these options should be a priority for vaccine research, considering the serious questions about the safety of aluminum in vaccines and the fact that considering aluminum-free vaccines or at least limiting the number of aluminum-containing vaccines received at one time may be prudent.

Increasing research is the goal PIC hopes to reach by publishing the math error in the featured 2011 study as well. In a news release, Dr. Shira Miller, president of PIC, said:

“We posted the Mitkus 2011 erratum … in hopes of bringing it to the attention of scientists and researchers who are interested in the safety of the quantities of injected aluminum found in childhood vaccines and would be in a position to further research the safety concern.”22

Vitamins C and D Finally Adopted as Coronavirus Treatment

Remember last year when Washington Post reporters were boldly declaring that vitamins C and D could not (and should not) be used against respiratory infections? The information I was sharing about their use was deemed so dangerous to public health that I was branded as a “fake news” site by self-appointed, pharma-owned arbiters of truth like NewsGuard.

How times have changed. After having defamatory lies published about me, vitamins C and D are now (finally) being adopted in the conventional treatment of novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

That just goes to show that when push comes to shove, the truth eventually prevails. When the medicine cabinet is empty, and doctors have limited options, suddenly the basics become viable again, and that is good news indeed, as it’s likely to save thousands of lives, while keeping health care costs down.

Vitamin C Treatment Implemented for Coronavirus Infection

As reported by the New York Post, March 24, 2020:1

“Seriously sick coronavirus patients in New York state’s largest hospital system are being given massive doses of vitamin C … Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health facilities on Long Island, said his intensive-care patients with the coronavirus immediately receive 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C.

Identical amounts of the powerful antioxidant are then re-administered three or four times a day, he said … The regimen is based on experimental treatments administered to people with the coronavirus in Shanghai, China …

‘The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,’ he said. ‘It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug’ …

Weber … said vitamin C levels in coronavirus patients drop dramatically when they suffer sepsis, an inflammatory response that occurs when their bodies overreact to the infection. ‘It makes all the sense in the world to try and maintain this level of vitamin C,’ he said.”

A Northwell Health spokesperson has reportedly confirmed that vitamin C treatment is being “widely used” against coronavirus within the 23-hospital system. According to Weber, vitamin C is being used in conjunction with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, which have also shown promise in coronavirus treatment.2

Vitamin C Is a Vastly Underutilized Antiviral ‘Drug’

According to Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized expert on vitamin C who has personally supervised tens of thousands of intravenous (IV) vitamin C administrations, vitamin C is “definitely a very underutilized modality in infectious disease,” considering “it’s really a premiere treatment” for infections.

In my interview with him, Hunninghake suggested one of the reasons why conventional medicine has been so slow to recognize the importance of vitamin C has to do with the fact that they’ve been looking at it as a mere vitamin, when in fact it’s a potent oxidizing agent that can help eliminate pathogens when given in high doses.

There are also financial factors. In short, it’s too inexpensive. Conventional medicine, as a general rule, is notoriously uninterested in solutions that cannot produce significant profits. One of the primary reasons we’re now seeing its use against COVID-19 is undoubtedly because we had no expensive drugs in the medical arsenal that could be turned to.

In my March 17, 2020, interview with Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, he mentions being in contact with a South Korean medical doctor who is giving patients and medical staff an injection of 100,000 IUs of vitamin D along with as much as 24,000 mg (24 grams) of IV vitamin C. “He’s reporting that these people are getting well in a matter of days,” Saul says.

As explained by Saul, vitamin C at extremely high doses acts as an antiviral drug, actually killing viruses. While it does have anti-inflammatory activity, which helps prevent the massive cytokine cascade associated with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, it’s antiviral capacity likely has more to do with it being a non-rate-limited free radical scavenger. As explained by Saul in our interview:

“Cathcart’s view is that you simply push in vitamin C to provide the electrons to reduce the free radicals. This is the way Cathcart and Levy look at vitamin C’s function (at very high doses) as an antiviral.

At modest doses, normal supplemental doses … vitamin C strengthens the immune system because the white blood cells need it to work. White blood cells carry around in them a lot of vitamin C … So, vitamin C is very well-known to directly beef up the immune system through the white blood cells.”

Vitamin C Effectively Treats Sepsis

Although the vitamin C protocol is new for COVID-19 treatment, it’s been used as a treatment for sepsis since about 2017. The vitamin C-based sepsis treatment protocol was developed by Dr. Paul Marik, a critical care doctor at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia, which has since adopted it as standard of care for sepsis.

Marik’s retrospective before-after clinical study3 published in 2016 showed giving patients 200 milligrams (mg) of thiamine every 12 hours, 1,500 mg of ascorbic acid every six hours, and 50 mg of hydrocortisone every six hours for two days reduced mortality from 40% to 8.5%.

Importantly, the treatment has no side effects and is inexpensive, readily available and simple to administer, so there’s virtually no risk involved. In 2009, IV vitamin C was shown to be a potentially lifesaving treatment for severe swine flu, so it’s understandable why both Chinese and American doctors hold hope for it with the coronavirus.

There’s already a clinical trial submitted for it at ClinicalTrials.gov.4 More recent research,5,6 published online January 9, 2020, found Marik’s sepsis protocol lowered mortality in pediatric patients as well.

The study was performed at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and as noted by Science Daily,7 the preliminary data from this study “supports the promising outcomes seen in adults.”

Vitamin C Highlighted During SARS Pandemic

Back in 2003, during the SARS pandemic, a Finnish researcher called8 for an investigation into the use of vitamin C after research showed it not only protected broiler chicks against avian coronavirus, but also cut the duration and severity of common cold in humans and significantly lowered susceptibility to pneumonia.
In his letter, published in the Journal of Antimicrobal Chemotherapy, Harri Hemilä wrote:9

“Recently, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In the absence of a specific treatment for SARS, the possibility that vitamin C may show nonspecific effects on several viral respiratory tract infections should be considered.

There are numerous reports indicating that vitamin C may affect the immune system, for example the function of phagocytes, transformation of T lymphocytes and production of interferon. In particular, vitamin C increased the resistance of chick embryo tracheal organ cultures to infection caused by an avian coronavirus.10

Even before that, many studies had demonstrated the usefulness of vitamin C against infections of various kinds. For example, a randomized double-blind study11 published in 1994 found elderly patients given 200 milligrams of vitamin C per day while hospitalized for acute respiratory infection fared significantly better than those receiving a placebo.

According to the authors, “This was particularly the case for those commencing the trial most severely ill, many of whom had very low plasma and white cell vitamin C concentrations on admission.”

Surprising Admission by CDC Chief About Vitamin D

Another powerful component in the prevention and treatment of influenza is vitamin D. Although vitamin D does not appear to have a direct effect on the virus itself, it does strengthen immune function, thus allowing the host body to combat the virus more effectively. It also suppresses inflammatory processes. Taken together, this might make vitamin D useful against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

My claim that vitamin D can cut infection risk was publicly vindicated March 24, 2020, when former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Dr. Tom Frieden published an opinion piece on Fox News stating that “Coronavirus infection risk may be reduced by vitamin D.”12 In it, Frieden writes:

“There are many crackpot claims about miracle cures floating around, but the science supports the possibility — although not the proof — that Vitamin D may strengthen the immune system, particularly of people whose Vitamin D levels are low.

Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza.

A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms — a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body — which increase mortality for those with COVID-19. Adequate vitamin D may potentially provide some modest protection for vulnerable populations …

Right now, we don’t know if vitamin D deficiency plays any role in the severity of COVID-19. But given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this country, it is safe to recommend that people get the proper daily dosage of vitamin D.

Most people’s bodies manufacture vitamin D in the skin when exposed to the sun. About 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight is sufficient for many people’s bodies to manufacture enough vitamin D; people with darker skin need longer exposure to sunlight to manufacture the same amount.

In winter, people in northern latitudes may not be able to make any vitamin D from sunlight. Sunscreen lengthens the exposure time needed. Many people, then, need vitamin D supplementation.”

Public Health Specialist Weighs in on Vitamin D

Similarly, in a March 25, 2020, MedPage Today article,13 Dr. John C. Umhau writes:

“As a public health specialist at the National Institutes of Health, I outlined how a lack of sun-induced vitamin D in the winter and early spring leads to epidemic acute respiratory infections (and this probably includes viruses like COVID-19).

That review, cited almost a thousand times, argued that groups with low vitamin D levels — the obese and the elderly and those with dark skin — may require 5,000 IU of vitamin D each day to obtain the 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 50 ng/mL that appear to protect against viral respiratory infection.

A government-sponsored research strategy to address this issue has not been developed, as officials explained that there was no mandate to explore an alternative to the existing vaccination program.

However, other researchers picked up the ball and provided convincing evidence that vitamin D could reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infection.”

While Umhau specifies a daily dosage, it’s crucial to remember that required dosages can vary widely from one person to another, and that the most important factor here is your blood level. You simply must adjust the vitamin D dose based on your specific recently measured vitamin D level.

I haven’t swallowed oral vitamin D for over a decade and my D level is over 70 ng/mL, as I walk in the sun nearly every day for one hour with my shirt off. I take no supplemental vitamin D. For those who are unable to get sun exposure and have low levels, doses of vitamin D3 may be 10,000 units a day or even higher, but the only way to know is to measure your blood levels.

For that, you must get tested, and then take whatever dosage required to get into the ideal range. While 50 ng/mL may be sufficient, I recommend a vitamin D level between 60 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL for optimal health and disease prevention. GrassrootsHealth’s D*Action research has shown you need at least 40 ng/mL to lower your risk of many diseases.14

In his article Umhau cites a 2017 meta-analysis15 of 25 randomized controlled trials showing vitamin D supplementation helped prevent acute respiratory infections. Those with vitamin D blood levels below 10 ng/mL, which is a serious deficiency state, cut their risk of infection by half, while people with higher vitamin D levels reduced their risk by about 10%.

Importantly, they found that, among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, you only need to treat four individuals in order to prevent one infection. That’s FAR more effective than influenza vaccination, which requires 71 individuals to be vaccinated in order to prevent a single case of influenza.16

According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.17 In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies available to prevent respiratory illness of all kinds.

Sun Exposure Recommended

Umhau also points out that:18

“Critical care research19 also documents the important effect of vitamin D on survival in ICU patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. There are several mechanisms by which vitamin D activity is critical for immune defense: vitamin D acts to maintain tight junctions, promote the effect of antimicrobial peptides (i.e., cathelicidin and defensins), and moderate the inflammatory response.20

Aggressively identifying and treating people with vitamin D deficiency is one potential strategy to reduce the risk of COVID-19. As outlined in the BMJ review, regularly taking oral vitamin D3 mitigates infection, although the optimal oral dose is debatable.

Bolus doses do not appear to provide benefit against infection, possibly through a dysregulation of vitamin D metabolism. There may be a simple yet effective alternative.

Since exposing the whole body to bright sunlight can provide long-lasting and rapid correction of deficiency, this may provide a critical boost to host immune defenses. Lacking definitive research, any risk of exposing the body to sunshine while sheltering in place is clearly outweighed by the risk of COVID-19.”

Vitamins C and D Recommendations

Based on the available scientific evidence, there’s no reason to ignore vitamins C and D for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.

Remember to test your vitamin D level. Do it at home and stay away from hospitals unless you’re already having symptoms of worsening respiratory infection, such as difficulty breathing. The level you’re aiming for is 60 ng/mL.

GrassrootsHealth makes testing easy by offering an inexpensive vitamin D testing kit as part of its consumer-sponsored research. All revenues from these kits go directly to GrassrootsHealth. I make no profit from these kits and only provide them as a service of convenience to my readers.

Vitamin C is also a crucial aid, both for the prevention and treatment of viral illnesses. You can find pertinent reports and research about vitamin C against COVID-19 on the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service website.21 I recommend using liposomal vitamin C, as it allows you to take far higher dosages than regular vitamin C (as regular vitamin C is limited by your bowel tolerance).

Dr. Robert Rowen, whom I recently interviewed about the use of vitamin C and ozone therapy for COVID-19, suggests taking upward of 6 grams (6,000 mg) per hour for acute illness, to simulate intravenous administration levels. Prophylactically, it is not recommended to take such high doses.

The only contraindication to high-dose vitamin C treatment is if you are glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient, which is a genetic disorder.22 G6PD is required for your body to produce NADPH, which is necessary to transfer reductive potential to keep antioxidants, such as vitamin C, functional.

Because your red blood cells do not contain any mitochondria, the only way it can provide reduced glutathione is through NADPH, and since G6PD eliminates this, it causes red blood cells to rupture due to inability to compensate for oxidative stress.

Fortunately, G6PD deficiency is relatively uncommon, and can be tested for. People of Mediterranean and African decent are at greater risk of being G6PD deficient. Worldwide, G6PD deficiency is thought to affect 400 million individuals, and in the U.S., an estimated 1 in 10 African-American males has it.23 Be sure to read this Thursday’s lead article on one of the most important preventive and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.

Weekly Health Quiz: Coronavirus, Meditation and 5G

1 Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are two drugs commonly used to treat:

  • High blood pressure
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • Malaria

    Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are two drugs commonly used to treat malaria. They are currently under investigation for potential antiviral activity that may help support treatment in those with severe COVID-19. Learn more.

2 What’s the best course of action when you have a fever below 104 degrees F?

  • Avoid fever-reducing medication; get plenty of bedrest, drink lots of fluids and “sweat it out”

    A number of studies have come to the conclusion that treating fever can prolong and exacerbate illness. A better alternative — provided your temperature does not get dangerously high — is to get plenty of bedrest, drink lots of fluids and simply “sweat it out.” Learn more.

  • Take ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and drink lots of Gatorade
  • Take acetaminophen (paracetamol, sold under the brand name Tylenol) and drink plenty of water or hot tea
  • Take a combination of NSAID and Tylenol and move about as much as you’re able

3 Which of the following countries has deployed 5G-equipped robots that measure people’s body temperature to identify sick individuals in large crowds?

  • United States
  • China

    In China, monitoring and tracking of individuals includes the deployment of 5G-equipped robots that measure people’s body temperature. Anyone with a body temperature above 37.3 degrees Celsius (99.14 F) is suspected of being sick. Learn more.

  • Denmark
  • Japan

4 Which of the following inhibits activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes — implicated in acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury, both of which are potential outcomes of COVID-19 infection — thus offering potential protection against infection?

  • Resveratrol
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Melatonin

    The inflammasome NLRP3 is a key culprit in acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury, both of which are potential outcomes of COVID-19 infection. Melatonin inhibits the activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes, thus offering potential protection against infection. Learn more.

  • Vitamin D

5 What kind of equipment would you need for an effective coronavirus quarantine workout?

  • A rowing machine
  • An exercise bicycle
  • A suspension bodyweight trainer
  • A mat or soft surface

    To maintain your fitness during coronavirus quarantine, all you need is a mat or soft surface. Learn more.

6 Which of the following are known effects of meditation?

  • Reduced anxiety and depression, and improved heart health

    Clinically, mindfulness-based meditation practice has been demonstrated in randomized trials to improve depressive symptoms and to have lasting anti-anxiety effects after only eight weeks of group practice. Learn more.

  • Increased judgment through clear seeing
  • Increased blood pressure in those with low blood pressure
  • Improved vocabulary through enlargement of the speech area of the brain

7 Which of the following therapies has the ability to kill lipid-coated viruses such as COVID-19, and may in fact be an ideal antiviral?

  • Blue light therapy
  • Ozone therapy

    The coronavirus is a lipid-coated virus and rich in cysteine amino acid residues; if you disrupt that lipid coat or oxidize the vulnerable cysteine, you reduce or eliminate its infectivity. Ozone attacks lipids and key amino acids, and viruses cannot repair that damage. Thus, ozone may effectively destroy the virus. According to ozone therapy expert Dr. Robert Rowen, ozone may in fact be an ideal antiviral. Learn more.

  • Magnesium-enriched water
  • Molecular hydrogen

Will the Coming Warm Weather Reduce the Spread of COVID-19?

For everything there is a season, and that includes viruses. Whether it’s the common cold or flu viruses, in the U.S. the season begins in fall. By December, the viral spread is in full swing until it peaks in February. However, it’s different in the southern hemisphere where Africa, Australia and Brazil are approaching winter as the U.S. and most of Europe are sliding into spring and summer.

For an understanding of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) currently spreading across the world, it helps to have some background on the virus that triggers flu. Interestingly influenza viruses1 and COVID-192 have similar characteristics, including a heat-sensitive lipid layer.

The name “influenza” originates from the initial Italian name, which was “influenza di freddo” or “influence of the cold.”3 Yet, while the colder months have higher rates of infection, you can still get a cold or flu infection throughout the year.

Other respiratory viruses circulate during the flu season and may trigger similar symptoms. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one that causes severe illness in young children and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “a leading cause of death from respiratory illness in those aged 65 years and older.”4

Although flu is common and well-studied, it continues to be deadly. While estimates vary from year to year, the CDC estimated that for the 2018-2019 season there were 35.5 million sick with flu, 490,000 hospitalized with it and 34,200 who died because of it.5 But, the reality is these are only estimates since6 “flu deaths in children are reported to CDC; flu deaths in adults are not nationally notifiable.”

Rising Flu Infections Compound COVID-19

In order to improve the accuracy of tracking illness and death, researchers look at the rate of death from pneumonia and influenza as most fatalities from influenza involve pneumonia.7 In the 2018-2019 flu season, the CDC found the percentage of death attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at or above epidemic thresholds for 10 weeks.8

The rates in the 2017-2018 season were recorded over epidemic numbers for 16 weeks and exceeded 10% for four weeks.9 While these are concerning, it’s important to know they are based on those who have symptoms or see their physician. Like COVID-19, there are many who carry influenza without symptoms but can infect those around them.

Harvard Health Publishing10 reports that from 20% to 30% may have the virus without symptoms, but data from a community-based study in England11 suggests “most influenza infections are asymptomatic.” This is similar to what researchers are finding out about COVID-19.

Nearly 80% of people with the novel coronavirus are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that don’t present the need for a physician appointment.12 Of the remaining 20%, the World Health Organization13 finds that 13.8% develop severe disease, which they define as significant respiratory distress with blood saturation levels less than or equal to 93%.

Unlike the death percentage from flu that may reach as much as 10% on peak weeks, numbers for COVID-19 indicate the worldwide “shelter in place” has kept the global percentage hovering from 4% to 5%. Of course, this is a global average as there are countries with higher and lower percentages. You can track the changing numbers on the Johns Hopkins map.14

Remember, the reported numbers of people who have been tested for COVID-19 are used in the map and not the total number who may or may not have symptoms. While just one death is too many, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and an understanding of how the virus spreads may keep the death rate lower than that from pneumonia and influenza.

The strain on medical resources commonly experienced during flu season is currently compounded by COVID-19, which also causes respiratory problems. These are important facts to remember as you read the headlines and emerging news reports.

COVID-19 May Recede in Summer Months

Just as flu has a season based on environmental temperatures, scientists are anticipating the same for COVID-19.15 Researchers studied the infectivity from January 21 to January 23, before the Chinese government put measures in place January 24 to stop the spread of the virus.16 This gave the scientists data on its natural, unhindered viral spread.

They found in the early stage of the outbreak, areas with low temperatures and lower humidity had higher numbers infected than those with warmer and more humid climates. Data from 14 countries with more than 20 cases from February 8 to February 29 revealed that its severity was dependent on temperature and humidity. The higher both measurements, the lower the severity during that time.17

Whether warm weather will help to flatten the curve and thus reduce the strain on medical resources remains a question.

Typically, this type of virus does exhibit seasonality, yet, as the BBC reports, pandemics may not follow seasonal patterns. Jan Albert, professor of infectious disease control at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, addressed the question of whether there would be a seasonal flow:18

“Eventually we would expect to see Covid-19 becoming endemic. And it would be really surprising if it didn’t show seasonality then. The big question is whether the sensitivity of this virus to [the seasons] will influence its capacity to spread in a pandemic situation. We don’t know for sure, but it should be in the back of our heads that it is possible.”

Endemic infections are those that have been moving through the human population for years. Many of the coronaviruses have been endemic and therefore have responded to seasonal changes,19 giving researchers hope that COVID-19 will respond similarly as the spring and summer months arrive.

Experts across the world have tried to estimate the spread of the disease and believe it hovers between 2.0 and 2.5, which means for every infected person there will be two to 2.5 who become infected.20

One reason researchers expect a summer drop in transmissibility is humidity. Virologist Thomas Pietschmann from the Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research in Hanover, Germany, explains:21

“What’s special about this virus is that humans are confronted with it for the first time. From the data we have from China, we can conclude that the virus has only once passed from an animal to humans and spread from there.

Viruses have greater stability at low temperatures. This is similar to food that keeps longest in the refrigerator. On cold and usually dry winter days, the small droplets, together with the viruses, float in the air longer than when the air humidity is high.”

Viruses Affect Gender Differently

Data have also shown that women have a higher rate of COVID-19 survival than men;22 this is similar to the flu.23 While it appears men and women have been infected at the same rate, the percentage who have died is greater for men. The New York Times reports the Chinese CDC published an analysis showing COVID-19 deaths in men numbered 2.8%, but in women it was 1.7%.

Researchers found the same thing with the SARS and MERS virus outbreaks. Some experts believe the differences may lie in the ability to mount a better immune response against infections.

Seasonal Fluctuations May Be Related to Vitamin D

While many believe getting the flu shot will reduce your risk, the effectiveness is usually less than 50%.24 Instead, you may have a better chance of reducing severity and infectivity by paying attention to your vitamin D levels. Many believe the rise and fall of infections are based on three factors, two of which involve your immune system:25

  • Spending more time indoors during the winter months with the windows sealed means you’re more likely to be infected breathing the same air as someone who is carrying a virus.
  • The days are shorter, and the lack of sunshine affects your vitamin D and melatonin levels, which in turn impacts your immune system.
  • The virus survives better in cold dry climates.

As far back as 1981 researchers were proposing there was a seasonal reason behind influenza epidemics. In a review of published literature,26 researchers noted that the robust seasonal vitamin D production, normally an option during the summer months, leaves people deficient in the winter.

This deficiency predisposes children to respiratory infections. They also found adults injected with live influenza virus were more likely to develop symptoms when their vitamin D level was low. They concluded that the seasonal stimulus proposed in 1981 was a function of vitamin D deficiency.

Some scientists have suggested that vitamin D induces another molecule, cathelicidin, to activate genes involved in the immune system.27 GrassrootsHealth reports that several randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the effectiveness vitamin D has in reducing the risk of contracting the flu, regardless of the mechanism.28

To fully support your body’s ability to fight infections, you’re aiming for a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL, with 40 ng/mL being the lowest cutoff for sufficiency. Although research may suggest how much it would take for the average person to achieve 40 ng/mL, your individual requirement may vary.

To know if you need a supplement or not, you’ll need to get your levels tested. Regular exposure to sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D levels, but this may not be possible during the winter months if you live in the northern hemisphere.

GrassrootsHealth makes testing easy by offering an inexpensive vitamin D testing kit as part of its consumer-sponsored research. By signing up, you are helping further vital health research that can help millions in coming years. All revenues from these kits go directly to GrassrootsHealth. I make no profit from these kits and only provide them as a service of convenience to my readers.

Support Your Immune System and Reduce Infections

There are several strategies you can use to support your immune system and reduce the number and severity of infections. Your immune system is your first line of defense against infection and to support health.

In addition to optimizing vitamin D and the suggestions listed below, you’ll also want to wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria that trigger infections. For information on effectiveness and technique see “The Impact of Effective Handwashing Against Infection.”

Nutrition — The role of your gut microbiome in your immune system function has been well documented in the past years.29,30,31 To support your gut microbiota it’s important to feed and care for your beneficial bacteria.

You can do this by limiting antibiotics to critical use, eating a high fiber diet to feed your microbiota, and including fermented foods in your nutritional plan to populate your gut with beneficial bacteria. Steer clear of sugar and processed foods, which feed harmful bacteria.

Sleep — There is a high cost to sleep deprivation, including damage to your immune system. As I’ve written before, a lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis and results in premature aging. If you have trouble sleeping, see “Top 33 Tips to Optimize Your Sleep Routine” for suggestions to help you achieve quality sleep.

Exercise — Regular exercise can reduce the potential you’ll get infected with a virus, with at least one study reporting the reduction being32 as high as 46%. Even those who were infected experienced a reduction in the severity of their symptoms.

Since exercise has repeatedly been proven to boost your immune system, treat it like a crucial part of your daily routine. However, not everyone relishes the idea. If you need help adding exercise to your routine see “Here’s How to Make Yourself Love Exercise.”

Vitamin B1 Is Vital to Protect Against Infectious Disease

While a limited number of drugs have been enlisted in the treatment of severe coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection, a number of nutritional supplements have risen to the forefront for their apparent usefulness. In addition to quercetin, zinc and vitamins C and D, vitamin B1 (thiamine) may be vital to protect against infectious respiratory illness.

Thiamine is also part of Dr. Paul Marik’s sepsis treatment, which calls for 1,500 milligrams (mg) of intravenous ascorbic acid every six hours, 200 mg of thiamine every 12 hours and 50 mg of hydrocortisone every six hours.1

Sepsis, as you may have heard, is a major contributor in influenza deaths in general, and a primary cause for COVID-19 deaths specifically. In one clinical trial,2,3 Marik, a critical care doctor at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia, showed his treatment reduced sepsis-related mortality nearly fivefold.

More recent research,4,5 published online January 9, 2020, found Marik’s sepsis protocol lowered mortality in pediatric patients as well. At the 30-day mark, controls and the hydrocortisone-only groups had a mortality rate of 28% while the treatment group had a mortality rate of just 9%.

Vitamin C, Thiamine and Steroids Have Synergistic Effects

All three ingredients in Marik’s sepsis protocol have synergistic effects, which seems to be why it’s so effective. Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to prevent and treat infectious diseases on its own.

Influenza,6 encephalitis and measles7 have all been successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C, and previous research has shown it effectively lowers proinflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein.8,9,10

Vitamin C and corticosteroids, however, have been shown to work synergistically. This was demonstrated in a study11 by Marik in collaboration with John Catravas, Ph.D., a pharmacology researcher at Old Dominion University, and others, in which endothelial cells from lung tissue were exposed to lipopolysaccharide — a type of endotoxin found in patients with sepsis — in the absence or presence of ascorbic acid and hydrocortisone.

Interestingly, when either vitamin C or the steroid was administered in isolation, very little improvement in endothelial barrier function occurred. When administered together, however, the infection was successfully eradicated and the cells were restored to normal.

The addition of thiamine (vitamin B1) is also important. Not only is thiamine required for metabolism of some of the metabolites of vitamin C, thiamine deficiency syndrome (beriberi) has many similarities to sepsis, and thiamine deficiency is relatively common in critically ill patients.12

As noted in a 1955 study,13 thiamine deficiency is also prevalent in pulmonary tuberculosis, and the more severe the case, the more severe the thiamine deficiency.

Studies have also shown thiamine can be helpful for a long list of diseases and disorders, including mitochondrial disorders,14 heart failure,15 delirium,16 thyroid fatigue and Hashimoto’s (a thyroid autoimmune disorder).17 These and other health effects may help explain why thiamine works so well in conjunction with vitamin C and hydrocortisone for sepsis.

You can learn more about Marik’s sepsis protocol in “Vitamin C — A Game Changer in Treatment of Deadly Sepsis,” along with commonsense recommendations for how to lower your risk of sepsis in the first place.

You can also review Marik’s PowerPoint presentation, “Hydrocortisone, Ascorbic Acid and Thiamine for the Treatment of Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock,” presented at the 2020 Critical Care Reviews meeting in Australia.

Thiamine Deficiency Implicated in Severe Infections

Thiamine deficiency has also been implicated in severe infections specifically. A 2016 study18 in the journal Psychosomatics sought to investigate this by looking at 68 patients with Korsakoff syndrome, a memory disorder caused by severe thiamine deficiency.

While thiamine deficiency is often the result of alcohol misuse, it’s also associated with chronic infections, poor nutrition and/or malabsorption. As explained by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Thiamine helps brain cells produce energy from sugar. When levels fall too low, brain cells cannot generate enough energy to function properly.”19

In the Psychosomatics study, they found that 35 of 68 Korsakoff patients suffered severe infections during the acute phase of the illness, including meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. According to the authors, “Infections may be the presenting manifestation of thiamine deficiency.”

Thiamine Helps Regulate Your Immune Function

Another study20 published in 2018 found thiamine helps limit Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) by regulating your innate immunity. According to this paper:

“… vitamin B1 promotes the protective immune response to limit the survival of MTB within macrophages and in vivo through regulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ? (PPAR-?).

Vitamin B1 promotes macrophage polarization into classically activated phenotypes with strong microbicidal activity and enhanced tumor necrosis factor-? and interleukin-6 expression at least in part by promoting nuclear factor-?B signaling.

In addition, vitamin B1 increases mitochondrial respiration and lipid metabolism and PPAR-? integrates the metabolic and inflammatory signals regulated by vitamin B1 … We demonstrate that vitamin B1 enhances anti-MTB activities in macrophages and in vivo by down-regulating PPAR-? activity.

Our data demonstrate important functions of thiamine VB1 in regulating innate immune responses against MTB and reveal novel mechanisms by which vitamin B1 exerts its function in macrophages.”

The Link Between Thiamine Deficiency and Fever

Thiamine deficiency is also associated with the development of high fever, and according to a letter to the editor,21 “Is Parenteral Thiamin a Super Antibiotic?” published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism in 2018, thiamine injections are “likely to eradicate microbial infections” causing the fever.

The authors cite some clinical case reports in which thiamine injections were able to reverse a number of acute illnesses in which high fever was a factor, including one case where the patient presented with high fever, headache and asphyxia (feelings of suffocation), and another where a comatose patient had high fever and severe pneumonia.

“… another laborer with much milder pneumonia, 38°C fever with few rales in the left lung died within 24 h, although a full dose of penicillin G was used, but no thiamin was given,” the authors note.

“This sharp contrast between the two cases made such a deep impression that it was strongly remembered. Fifty-six years later, it became a life-saving suggestion for a critical case with fatal viral pneumonia.”

The authors go on to detail an even more remarkable case involving a 38-year-old Chinese woman who was brought to the hospital with high fever (39 to 40 degrees C), pain, swollen legs and bloody sputum. Laboratory testing showed she was anemic and had low platelets, severe pneumonia, femoral thromboses and heart failure. She also tested positive for hepatitis C.

“An exhaustive identification study revealed that the pathogen of her pneumonia was diagnosed to be an unknown kind of virus,” the authors note. “Pulmonary lesions were extremely severe, strange, and rare with multiple small perforations in the left lung …

After 12 days of immunoglobulin, anti-viral, antithrombotic, and antipyretic medication, she was about to die when her family promptly carried her home … At home, thiamin 200 mg and VB complex 1 ampule (containg thiamin 10 mg, riboflavin 2 mg, niacinamide 30 mg, pyridoxin 2 mg, pantothenic acid 1 mg) were injected thrice daily.

Temperature returned to normal after 2 days and leg edema disappeared in 5 days … After 58 days, she was checked in the Beichen Hospital … The results revealed a normal heart; hepatitis C negative … less effusion in the left thoracic cavity; pleural thickness especially on the left side but no adhesion. Lung perforation was absent … She thereafter enjoyed excellent health without any sign of embolism or pneumonia recurrence.”

About 10 months after her initial hospitalization, she underwent a second follow-up, which revealed normal blood counts and electrocardiography. Her lungs also looked completely normal on X-rays, “with no thickening or adhesion of pleura except for a few texture thickenings in the lungs.”

According to the authors, this case made them wonder whether thiamine might be “a super antibiotic.” “It seemed to be surely so and was emerging to be a powerful alternative in the event of antibiotics failing,” they said.

Thiamine Deficiency Might Impact Pandemics

The World Health Organization has also published information about the importance of thiamine and how to prevent deficiency during major emergencies.22 According to WHO:

Thiamine deficiency occurs where the diet consists mainly of milled white cereals, including polished rice, and wheat flour, all very poor sources of thiamine. Thiamine deficiency can develop within 2-3 months of a deficient intake and can cause disability and death.”

Other evidence suggests thiamine insufficiency or deficiency can develop even faster than that, perhaps as quickly as two weeks, as its half-life in your system is only nine to 18 days.23

The WHO report also points out that “Thiamine deficiency occurs sporadically in people who are socially isolated, suffer loss of appetite and self-neglect” — a point that is particularly pertinent in current circumstances of global “shelter in place” requirements. What’s more:

“The requirement of thiamine is increased when carbohydrates are taken in large amounts and is raised during periods of increased metabolism, for example, fever, muscular activity, hyperthyroidism and also during pregnancy and lactation. A diet based on polished rice is high in carbohydrates which augments the thiamine requirement and is compounded by a low thiamine content.”

Aside from rice, junk food of all kinds tends to be loaded with carbohydrates as well, which could necessitate a higher-than normal thiamine intake to prevent side effects of thiamine deficiency. In adults, thiamine deficiency is divided into two primary types:24,25

  • Dry beriberi (thiamine deficiency with peripheral neuropathy) — Polyneuropathy with paraesthesia of the extremities (especially the legs), reduced knee jerk and other tendon reflexes, progressive severe weakness and wasting of muscles, and greatly increased susceptibility to infections.
  • Web beriberi (thiamine deficiency with cardiomyopathy) — Edema (especially of the legs, but also the trunk and face), high cardiac output, ventricular failure, sinus rhythm, dilatation of arterioles, depressed erythrocyte and leukocyte transketolase, elevated serum lactate and pyruvate, and pulmonary congestion with pleural effusions; death from congestive heart failure may occur abruptly.

By dramatically increasing susceptibility to infections, thiamine deficiency could potentially have the ability to impact the spread of just about any pandemic infectious disease.

The Importance of Thiamine in Septic Shock

With regard to sepsis — which is a primary reason why people die from COVID-19 — thiamine may be of vital importance. In a Journal of Thoracic Disease article with the evocative title, “Do Not Forget to Give Thiamine to Your Septic Shock Patient!” the authors stress that:26

“[Thiamine] is a water-soluble vitamin that is an indispensable constituent of cellular metabolism. A lack of this vitamin can, therefore, be potentially life-threatening … Thiamine diphosphate, also known as thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) … is the most important and active form of this vitamin …

Thiamine pyrophosphate … acts in concomitance with magnesium to expedite various mitochondrial oxidative decarboxylation reactions.

Thiamine pyrophosphate is necessary as a cofactor for branched-chain ketoacid dehydrogenase complex essential for the metabolism of the branched-chain amino acids and for two critical complexes required for the mitochondrial synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP): pyruvate and 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (?-ketoglutarate) complexes …

Also, TPP serves as a coenzyme for transketolase, a cytosolic enzyme implicated in the pentose phosphate pathway that functions in maintaining cell redox status through the production of NADPH (reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) and glutathione …

Lack of thiamine leads to alterations in intermediate metabolism that end-up in lactic acidosis …

Thiamine deficiency is also prevalent in septic shock patients, with rates ranging from 20% to 70% depending on the cutoff value used to define the presence of thiamine deficiency. Lack of thiamine reduces the flux of pyruvate to the Krebs cycle, thus increasing lactate production by altering the aerobic metabolism.

In a prospective, observational study, Donnino et al. investigated the relationship between thiamine levels and lactic acidosis in 30 septic shock patients …

After excluding patients with abnormal liver function tests, the authors observed a significant negative correlation between thiamine concentrations and lactic acidosis, implying a potential association between thiamine levels and lactic acidosis in septic shock patients with normal liver function.

Thus, the possibility that by decreasing the activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, thiamine deficiency can contribute to increased production of lactic acid in critically ill septic patients exists.”

The authors cite additional research strongly suggesting “the administration of thiamine is advantageous in septic shock patients with severe thiamine deficiency (thiamine level ?7 nmol/L).” Considering the safety of thiamine, even at high doses, the authors stress that “septic shock patients should be given thiamine … without waiting for the results of thiamine level.”

The European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism guidelines for patients in intensive care situations are 100 to 300 mg of thiamine per day “during the first three days in the ICU for all patients with suspected thiamine deficiency.”27

In cases of septic shock, however, dosages of 500 mg may be required. According to “Do Not Forget to Give Thiamine to Your Septic Shock Patient!”:28

“Because anaphylaxis has been reported in rare instances, guidelines in the United Kingdom have recommended that thiamine should be administered over 15- to 30-minute interval in a mixture of saline solution or dextrose, with the intention of averting potential adverse reactions.”

Vitamins C, D, Thiamine and Magnesium for Critical Illness

A 2018 report29 in Intensive Care Medicine also focuses on thiamine — here in conjunction with vitamins C and D. It cites research showing septic shock patients with thiamine deficiency who were given thiamine had far lower mortality (13%) than those who did not receive it (46%).30 They were also far less likely to suffer kidney failure.

Like thiamine, acute vitamin C deficiency is very common during critical illness yet tends to go unnoticed. As noted in this report, “Acute vitamin C deficiency may contribute to hypotension, exaggerated inflammation, capillary leakage, microcirculatory compromise, oxidative organ injury, and impaired immune defense and wound healing.”

Vitamin D deficiency is also common, and can worsen illness and increase the risk of death from acute illness. According to the authors of this report:

Preliminary data using novel methods suggest that glutathione and glutamate pathway metabolism, which are important for redox regulation and immunomodulation, are affected by vitamin D status …

The VITdAL-ICU study (n?=?475) did not find a difference in the length of hospital stay between groups, but there was a significant reduction in mortality in the predefined subgroup of patients with severe vitamin D deficiency. The most recent meta-analysis concludes that vitamin D in the ICU may be associated with mortality reduction.”

Surprisingly, magnesium has not been given much, if any, attention in all this. It may be just as important for the prevention and treatment of infection, however, seeing how magnesium is required for the activation of both thiamine31 and vitamin D.32,33,34

Can UV Light Kill Coronavirus?

Many who are working from home or otherwise isolated during the coronavirus pandemic are looking for some positive news. Well, there is some good news when it comes to controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus now termed COVID-19.

It may be that UV (ultraviolet) light will help dampen this pandemic. UV light is currently used in medical settings,1 wastewater treatment plants2 and food processing.3 Now, as COVID-19 grows, there is increased demand from hospitals and medical facilities for conventional UV lights and variations on such lamps.4 According to Crunchbase News:5

[S]tartups that disinfect items with UV light are … seeing a boost in sales since the outbreak — and are hustling to keep up with demand as a result. PhoneSoap, a company that makes devices to clean phones and other items with UV light, has seen 1,000 percent growth year over year in the past week …

In about mid-January, PhoneSoap executives began to notice an uptick in interest from overseas on both their website and Amazon. But the surge in sales really came after United States government officials and the Centers for Disease Control started speaking out more about the outbreak and threat to the U.S.”

Other startups besides PhoneSoap are also seeing a surge in orders for disinfecting UV products, says Crunchbase:6

“CleanSlate UV, which is based in Toronto and has roughly $2 million in funding, makes devices that sanitize items with UV light. In hospitals, staff usually use CleanSlate UV for items like stethoscopes, badges and phones, and visitors often use it for their phones.”

While both PhoneSoap and CleanSlate UV acknowledge that the effectiveness of UV light on COVID-19 has yet to be proven, Taylor Mann, CEO of CleanSlate UV, says:7

“What we can say is UV light has been proven to be effective against previous strains of coronavirus … We just don’t know how effective it is against this specific strain.”

CleanSlate UV is currently serving more than 80 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada and hospitals in Australia, Hong Kong and Europe.8

Science Backs the Effectiveness of UV Light

The use of UV light for disinfection and decontamination of pathogens is not new. Over a hundred years ago in 1903, Niels Ryberg Finsen won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for opening “a new avenue for medical science” through his discovery of the effect of concentrated light radiation in the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris.9

UV light is a major tool in the fight against airborne-mediated microbial diseases. According to research published in Scientific Reports in 2018:10

“Airborne-mediated microbial diseases represent one of the major challenges to worldwide public health. Common examples are influenza, appearing in seasonal and pandemic forms, and bacterially-based airborne- mediated diseases such as tuberculosis, increasingly emerging in multi- drug resistant form.

A direct approach to prevent the transmission of airborne-mediated disease is inactivation of the corresponding airborne pathogens, and in fact the airborne antimicrobial efficacy of ultraviolet (UV) light has long been established.

Germicidal UV light can also efficiently inactivate both drug-sensitive and multi-drug-resistant bacteria, as well as differing strains of viruses.”

Hospitals decontaminate rooms that housed patients with dangerous and contagious infections such as C. difficile with UV light, according to The New York Times.11 During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the University of Nebraska Medical Center successfully relied on UV light disinfection, reports the Times.12

The center allows large UV lamps to “shine for three to five minutes,” explained John Lowe, the medical center’s assistant vice chancellor for health security training and education, to the Times. “It disinfects anywhere it can shine.”13

At the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Richard Ellison, the hospital epidemiologist, concurs about the effectiveness of UV light. “The research supports this type of cleaning,” he says.14

UV Light Has Worked With Similar Coronaviruses

SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is an animal-related respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that surfaced in Asia in 2003. Though it was largely contained by 2004,15 a similar disease, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), surfaced in 2012, originating in Saudi Arabia.16 COVID-19 shows “significant overlap” with both SARS and MERS, says Science Daily.17

The good news is that UV light has shown positive effects against MERS in scientific studies. According to research published in the journal Transfusion, two different UV light devices reduced MERS infectivity in platelets and plasma, as well as infectivity from the Ebola virus.18 Ebola is a rare, sometimes fatal illness first reported in Africa.19

A study published in Transfusion Medicine to determine if UV light could reduce MERS-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) transmission by human platelet concentrates also found effectiveness combined with Amotosalen,20 a light-activated DNA and RNA crosslinking agent:21

“Complete inactivation of MERS-CoV in spiked platelet units was achieved by treatment with Amotosalen/UVA light with a mean log reduction of 4·48±0·3. Passaging of the inactivated samples in Vero E6 showed no viral replication even after nine days of incubation and three passages. Viral genomic …

Amotosalen and UVA light treatment of MERS-CoV-spiked platelet concentrates efficiently and completely inactivated MERS-CoV infectivity (>4 logs), suggesting that such treatment could minimize the risk of transfusion-related MERS-CoV transmission.”

Novel Uses of UV Light Disinfection Are Seen

Hospitals are well aware of the benefits of UV light in cleaning rooms and equipment but manual cleaning may not be as thorough as necessary. That is why the use of UV-disinfection robots is being explored. According to Interesting Engineering:22

“Maintaining a clean and safe healthcare environment is a top priority, and while significant progress has been made in sanitization methods, major improvements must still be made. According to the CDC even with modern sanitization protocols, on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection.

Current manual cleaning methods are nearly helpless in combating against bacteria, but the battle is not lost. Infection prevention technologies are giving rise to a new era of ultra-clean hospital’s and emergency care facilities with the implementation of highly-efficient UV-disinfection robots …

The robots are fast and efficient, able to eliminate far more bacteria than humanly possible. Their ability to move around enables them to attack shadowed areas where many harmful organisms tend to manifest in places that are often missed by sanitization teams.”

Since COVID-19 can spread in venues other than medical settings, airlines are also exploring UV light disinfection. Boeing is developing a self-cleaning lavatory that is disinfected after every use with UV light, effectively killing 99.99% of pathogens on all surfaces in three seconds. The lavatory is also hands-free. According to Travel and Lesiure:23

“‘The UV light destroys all known microbes by literally making them explode,’ Boeing Research & Technology engineer Jamie Childress said in a statement. While Boeing says this particular type of light isn’t harmful to humans, the cleaning system is designed only to turn on when the bathroom door is closed and unoccupied.”

More Advantages of UV Disinfection

One reason pathogens are so difficult to kill is that they mutate and develop resistance, which renders antiviral medications and antibiotics developed especially for them useless. Not so with UV light disinfection, says a UV device maker. According to Clean Technica, referring to the Scientific Reports study published in 2018:24,25

“Another advantage of … [the] UVC study is that it’s both effective against bacteria which have evolved resistance to common drugs and it’s very unlikely that diseases and viruses could evolve to be resistant to it due to effective limitations on their scale.”

The goal of virus eradication is to stop the viruses from replicating. Digital Trends reported:26

“Viruses don’t reproduce on their own, but they do have genetic material, either DNA or RNA. They reproduce by attaching to cells and injecting their DNA …

UV light can cause [viruses’] thymine bases to fuse together, scrambling the DNA sequence and essentially throwing a wrench into the machinery. Since the DNA sequence is no longer correct, it can no longer replicate properly. This is how UV light annihilates viruses, by destroying their ability to reproduce.”

UV light may be an improvement over current disinfectants, especially those used outside. Worldwide reports say the most commonly used outdoor disinfectant against COVID-19 is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite known as household bleach. But there are drawbacks. Says Science magazine:27

“[I]t’s unclear whether bleach destroys coronaviruses outside, and if it does kill them on surfaces it’s unclear whether it would kill viruses in the air. Bleach itself breaks down under ultraviolet (UV) light. Then again, [Juan] Leon [an environmental health scientist at Emory University] says UV light seems to destroy coronaviruses as well …

There may even be downsides to widespread overzealous disinfection with bleach, notes Julia Silva Sobolik, a graduate student in Leon’s lab. ‘Bleach is highly irritating to mucous membranes,’ Sobolik says. That means people exposed to sprayed disinfectants — especially the workers who spray them — are at risk of respiratory troubles, among other ailments.

Sobolik notes that an October 2019 study in JAMA Network Open found that nurses who regularly used disinfectants to clean surfaces were at higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.28 A 2017 study linked exposure to disinfectants to asthma to adults in Germany.29

UV Light Can Help Personal Protective Equipment

Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line medical staff are widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The New York Times, protective facemasks for health care workers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center are now being decontaminated with UV light for reuse.30

“‘We are making the best of bad choices,’ said Dr. Mark Rupp, the medical center’s chief of infectious diseases. He feels confident that the masks will still protect health care workers. ‘The data is very clear that you can kill and inactivate viruses with UV germicidal irradiation,’ he said. ‘It is also very clear that you will not damage the respirators.'”

Other hospitals are also treating protective face masks with UV light, says the Times.31 Years ago when I was in college I got some sense of the power of UV light first hand. I developed the nail infection called onychomycosis characterized by yellow nail discoloration.

These infections are common but notoriously hard to treat even with powerful and sometimes risky oral antifungal drugs. In my case, my intensive running and lack of understanding of optimal diet probably contributed to the condition.

Medication treatments were unsuccessful, but, to my delight, my infection disappeared after frequent, daily doses of sunshine on my toes. Looking back, it makes perfect sense that sunlight would remove the infection since UV light is a very potent germicide.

For industrial uses, mere exposure to sunlight won’t do the trick — lamps emitting UV are required. They “could really be beneficial in disrupting disease transmission,” says Shawn Gibbs, who has studied UV disinfection at the Indiana University School of Public Health in Bloomington.32 Let’s hope UV light can be used to fight COVID-19.

Ozone Therapy for Coronavirus

In this interview, which took place March 23, 2020, Dr. Robert Rowen, who has practiced ozone therapy longer than any other physician in North America, discusses how it can be used for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection and other viral illnesses.

I previously interviewed Rowen about his contributions during the 2014 Ebola epidemic, when he and his staff went to Africa to treat affected patients and teach medical professionals on the use of ozone.

Over the years, Rowen has treated tens of thousands of people for a wide variety of conditions, and ozone appears to work in a wide variety of clinical settings, he says.

“I decided to go to Africa in 2014 because, knowing what I knew about the Ebola virus itself, I thought ozone would be an ideal therapy. Because of the similarity of the Ebola viral coat to coronavirus, I also believe it will be an effective treatment for coronavirus,” Rowen says.

Ozone Is Safe and Inexpensive

Aside from its effectiveness against infectious disease, ozone therapy is also incredibly inexpensive and safe. Ozone is only toxic to respiratory lung epithelium, so you must avoid breathing it. Other than that, it can be safely used in a variety of ways.

The biggest cost is the ozone generator itself, but once you have that, and compressed medical grade oxygen, you can treat large numbers of people very inexpensively.

You can technically generate ozone from ambient air. However, ambient air is nearly 80% nitrogen, so you’ll create a load of reactive nitrogen species rather than reactive oxygen species. That would be a bad idea. So, you a form of purer oxygen is preferred.

The most convenient is an oxygen concentrator. If run at a at a low flow rate, it will produce about 93% to 95% oxygen. Medical grade 100% oxygen is ideal, but in most states, you have to be a physician to get it, or you need a prescription for it. An oxygen concentrator is fine, Rowen says, if all you’re doing is bubbling ozone through water, but it should not be used for other ozone delivery strategies.

How Ozone Works

The most important factor in healing is oxygen, Rowen says. Oxygen is life. Without it, we die. Ozone improves body oxygenation in several ways. It:

Increases 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) in red blood cells, which causes more oxygen to be released by hemoglobin

Improves red blood cell flexibility, allowing the red blood cells to travel through small capillaries better

Increases arterial venous oxygen difference, which improves your body’s consumption of oxygen

Improves ATP production

Increases key antioxidants

Modulates the immune system, increasing certain cytokines that reduce inflammation and decreasing certain cytokines that increase inflammation

Reduces tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), thus reducing the lethality of insults such as stress or infection

Increases nitric oxide production, which improves blood circulation

All of these biochemical effects help explain ozone’s effectiveness. Importantly, ozone kills microorganisms, both viruses and bacteria, on contact. However, since ozone dissipates within microseconds, it cannot effectively kill a significant number of viral pathogens unless you somehow are able to extend the exposure.

For this reason, (if the case is severe or acute) ozone needs to be given via prolonged administration, either through direct intravenous (DIV) administration or through administration of ozone-enriched blood.

That said, even though ozone dissipates quickly, it creates a whole host of downstream metabolites (ozonites) — messenger molecules — that can kill pathogens and upregulate your immune system, and they last for days.

As explained in Rowen’s commentary,1 “A Plausible ‘Penny’ Costing Effective Treatment for Corona Virus — Ozone Therapy,” published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology:

“When blood is treated with ozone, it instantly reacts with electron-rich double bonds of lipids and other molecules. This creates longer lasting downstream weaker oxidant metabolites called ozonides: reactive oxygen species and lipid oxidation products, inclusive of peroxides, peroxyls, alkenes, alkanes. These molecules appear to act as messengers for the key biochemical and immune modulating effects of the therapy.”

How You Can Use Ozone

There are two basic ways to receive ozone therapy. Ideally, you’d see a clinician like Rowen who is experienced in its use. However, during a pandemic, that might not be feasible for any number of reasons.

Rowen has created an hour-long video explaining how to administer ozone therapy at home. Anyone can use these techniques, and it’s “extraordinarily safe,” Rowen says. The video is available for a $20 donation to Ozone Without Borders.2 Rowen’s website, DrRowenDrsu.com, also provides articles on home ozone use. In summary, home ozone techniques you can use include:

  • Rectal and/or vaginal insufflation
  • Ear insufflation
  • Drinking ozone water
  • Ozone sauna
  • General insufflation

Combination Therapies

When it comes to ozone machines, Rowen points out that some machines will also allow you to nebulize hydrogen peroxide, which he is doing daily during this epidemic. If you’re using colloidal silver, he advises taking the silver and hydrogen peroxide separately from each other. Two other useful therapies that can be combined with ozone therapy are:

Molecular hydrogen, which upregulates your endogenous antioxidants. Molecular hydrogen tablets are dissolved in water, generating molecular hydrogen gas, which is then consumed. I would recommend drinking molecular hydrogen about 30 minutes before you do the ozone therapy. I do this routinely before I go into my hyperbaric chamber.

Liposomal vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which will allow you to take far higher dosages than regular vitamin C (as regular vitamin C is limited by your bowel tolerance).

As noted by Rowen, “You’re looking at 6 grams an hour, so you can easily swallow six 1,000 milligram capsules per hour or even more. If you take a lot of them at once, you would actually exceed intravenous administration levels, if the kidneys did not eliminate the nutrient.

That’s a really good idea. The vitamin C in this case is working as a pro oxidant, and it’s worth it to [take it].” Bear in mind that these high dosages are only for acute illness, not for prophylactic use to prevent infection.

Nebulized hydrogen peroxide — This was new to me but makes so much sense and I strongly recommend everyone get a nebulizer with a face mask so you can inhale the mist into your nose, sinuses and lungs. They are easily available on Amazon or at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Avoid using a mouth-only inhaler.

You only need 3% hydrogen peroxide that you can purchase for $1 nearly anywhere. You might need to dilute it by at least 10fold. You can combine it with ionic colloidal silver, which is my favorite.

This is a very powerful therapy that I believe nearly everyone would benefit from when they are challenged with an acute viral infection. I suspect it is even more effective than using hydrogen peroxide in your ear canals that I’ve previously recommended. If you want some entertainment, watch one of my first YouTube videos from 2006 on this.

Ozone Water Is a Simple Home Remedy

While spending time in the Republic of Guinea a year ago, Rowen met a Polish nurse named Wieslavia Moriba — the wife of one of his patients — who was using ozone therapy on her patients. She had them drinking ozone water or taking ear insufflation or rectal insufflation. 

“She was getting really, really good results with this,” Rowen says. She would bubble ozone through water at very cold temperatures, as cold water allows for far greater diffusion of ozone.

Water close to freezing can contain about three times the amount of ozone found in room temperature water. The reason for this is because colder water is denser, allowing it to hold more oxygen. As the water gets warmer it is not able to hold as much gas, so it diffuses out.

Ozone for Coronavirus

So, just how would ozone therapy kill coronavirus? In the interview, Rowen explains the mechanisms responsible. A more detailed description is also given in “A Plausible ‘Penny’ Costing Effective Treatment for Corona Virus — Ozone Therapy”:3

“[Ozone therapy] may be ideal therapy for viruses. In order to successfully penetrate cells, many viruses require membrane glycoproteins to be in the reduced R-S-H form rather than oxidized (R-S-S-R). Ozone inactivates many viruses directly …

Mirazmi, et al. found cytomegalovirus loses infectivity if its thiol groups are oxidized. Re-reducing the oxidized thiols (by dithiothreitol) enabled the virus to regain 65% infectivity. HIV is dependent on reduced sulfhydryl groups for infectivity, as also reported for Ebola virus to enter cells.

Like Ebola, corona virus structure also has regions rich in cysteine, inclusive of the spike and envelope proteins. Cysteine is an amino acid carrying a sulfhydryl (R-S-H) residue, also called a ‘thiol’ group. Alterations of these residues have been found to ‘cripple’ virus growth properties at least 2 logs lower than wild type virus.

Active cysteine is essential for membrane fusion … The redox status (reduced cysteine residues vs. oxidized residues) can ‘switch’ protein activity to ‘on’ or ‘off.’ Thiol S-H bonds are far weaker than the O-H bonds in alcohols, and vulnerable to oxygen based oxidants, which can oxidize the sulfur to sulfonic acid residues (R-SO3-H) …

Cysteine is highly vulnerable to oxidation to disulfide (R-S-S-R) or other residues; which effect will cripple its biochemical activity in proteins, altering their three-dimensional structure. Enzymes may become inactive when reduced thiols are oxidized. Ozone itself will oxidize SH groups instantly on contact.

Knowing ozone extinguishes itself virtually instantly on contact with blood, creating ozonides, one might then ask, ‘How will ozone reach deep reservoirs of virus?’ Ozonides are oxidants in their own right. They have a prolonged life … providing ongoing protection after a single treatment.

These molecules are less reactive than ozone, but still possess oxidizing power and serve as biochemical signaling molecules modulating the immune system. Creating a more ‘oxidized’ environment, ozone therapy may assist the body in inactivating thiols in viruses in blood and tissues.

(Our immune system is well known to create reactive oxidant species, such as hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, nitric oxide, hypochlorous acid, etc. and even ozone itself as mentioned previously to defend against infection). Viruses, unlike ‘living’ cells, have no mechanism of self-repair.”

In simpler layman’s terms, the coronavirus is a lipid-coated virus and rich in cysteine amino acid residues; if you disrupt that lipid coat or oxidize the vulnerable cysteine, you reduce or eliminate its infectivity. Ozone attacks lipids, and viruses cannot repair that damage. Thus, ozone may effectively destroy the virus.

Ozone May Be an Ideal Antiviral

Ozone also modulates the immune system. The cytokine storm associated with severe COVID-19 infection is due to an out of control immune reaction. Ozone can help bring the immune system back into balance, thus allowing it to defend itself against the invader without causing excessive damage in the process. According to Rowen:

“Ozone appears to be an incredible antiviral. In my words, it’s the ideal antiviral … Designing drugs to damage the lipid coat is probably going to fail because those drugs are going to be toxic.

But we have a molecule that can do this. And whether you call it a drug, ozone is a natural substance — because it’s made by the body — it matters not to me. The fact is, it’s a pro-oxidant and it can ding the virus and render it inactive if the virus is exposed to it …

One of my goals in all of this is to try to get ozone [as] standard of care. I believe it’s running up against a wall deliberately, because if ozone and oxidative therapies, including vitamin C, hydrogen peroxide or ultraviolet blood radiation got out there, you would see a change in the landscape of medicine in this country and it would really hurt Pharma … So, I have no doubt that this information is being deliberately squelched.

I know reporters who were trying to get the story out there and they were told by their higher ups, no go. It’s a dead story. Why? Ozone could be put into the ICUs [at] no expense, no cost. I don’t want to be paid for it to go into local hospitals … But we have a system that is so corrupt, so vile, that if it’s not FDA approved, they will let somebody die.

That’s evil on steroids. So it would seem that this pandemic could be a great opportunity. Because in China, they’re using intravenous ascorbic acid for this, but it would seem to be an opportunity to use ozone over there … The people that they’ve gotten to with ozone, even those who are seriously ill, have had a very favorable outcome.”

To learn more, read Rowen’s commentary,4 “A Plausible ‘Penny’ Costing Effective Treatment for Corona Virus — Ozone Therapy,” published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, or check out his website, DrRowenDrsu.com. In the interview, Rowen also goes into greater depth, explaining the biomechanics of ozone as it pertains to viral infections.