With conflicting messages in the media surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak, it’s hard to know how concerned we should be. We reached out to James Lyons-Weiler, Ph.D., a research scientist and author of three books, the latest of which is “The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism,” to uncover what we need to know about the novel coronavirus, including treatment options and how best to prepare.
James Lyons-Weiler, PhD – Updated 2/28/2020
Here is a list of a few important things you may not yet know about the novel Coronavirus. There are some technical points up front; details on issues related to government action on quarantine and treatments follow.
I thank Dr. Theron Hutton, MD for leads on treatment.
1. The virus is called SARS-COV-2. It is a close relative of SARS. It has a very different Spike protein from SARS, and is a different virus with a distinct disease progression. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19 (IPAK hypothesis of original antigenic sin).
2. Because SARS-CoV-2 has a distinct spike protein it is thought to engage a slightly different mechanism for cellular entry (for those up to speed, it binds less strongly to the protein ACE2 on the surface of human cells than SARS). I have found a motif pattern in the Spike protein that might be useful in determining which data from studies from various studies of SARS might be most relevant for SARS-CoV-2.
3. Our best available data at this time indicates that this virus was not made in a laboratory. It most likely is an older virus related to SARS and is rare in nature and was transferred to humans either in a laboratory studying the virus or from a spillover event from someone handling an infected animal or its meat. The most likely candidate for the reservoir species is a bat.
4. Infected people without symptoms can spread the virus. Infected people without symptoms can spread the virus before they start showing symptoms. The period of asymptomatic transmission is anywhere from one to two weeks – or longer.
5. This virus has a basic reproduction number of about 2.6. That means typically people spread the virus to between 2 and 3 people. Superspreaders do exist. However, the lengthy asymptomatic period and multiple modes of transmission means those 2.6 people are easy for the virus to find.
6. The virus is thought to spread via body fluids – and, unfortunately aerosolization – and can be found in body fluids and in feces. Masks are best saved for the infected to prevent spread, but knowing who is infected is difficult due to the prolonged asymptomatic prodromal period. It is important to know that greetings in public should no longer involve shaking hands or high-fives, hugging or kissing – even in areas of the world where SARS-CoV-2 has not yet been found. Elbow bumps are ok.
7. There is no vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 , and it is extremely unlikely that a vaccine will be will play a role in ending this pandemic. This makes isolation and even mildly effective treatments incredibly important. It is best not to rush to a vaccine with the spiked protein either, because animal studies have shown that animals vaccinated and SARS with a spike protein vaccine have had a high mortality rate. Individuals who have had a past SARS or MERS infection may reasonably be expected to be at increased risk of a serious severe case of COVID-19.
8. Treatments under study include nutriceuticals and supplements; Supplements that might have a positive effect, noted by colleague Dr. Theron Hutton, MD, include N- acetyl cystein, selenium, spirulina and high dose glucosamine and antiviral drugs such as Disulfiram and Chloroquine Phosphateas researchers also found here and here. Selenium and other micronutrient deficiency is considered to play a role in severity of a coronavirus infection. Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, has been found to have few toxic effects and to be clinically effective against SARS-associated coronavirus.
9.The disease from SARS-CoV-2 infection has reasonably high case-fatality rate to take this outbreak seriously. If you contracted coronavirus you currently have about a 2 to 3% chance of dying. However those who die usually have some cardiovascular disease or other problems leading to lung issues. Children seem to not be at as high risk of death from SARS-CoV-2 infection. If everyone with a potential infection shows up at the hospital, it will overwhelm the healthcare system. Better to call ahead to ask if and where you should go. People at risk (with cardiovacular disease, for example) might want to think about purchasing an oxygen generator in case they develop pneumonia (under the advisement of your physician, of course).
10. The best way to protect yourself and everyone else to stay away from people. While that is not feasible especially for people in the medical community it is imperative that everyone understand that they can pick up and spread the virus without having any symptoms for a long time. Don’t share food or utensils for cell phones.
11. If you have coronavirus in your city or town, you may expect widespread quarantine even for those who do not have symptoms. That means sheltering-in-place in place at home. That means a bit of prepping this and next week.
12. Quarantine and even partially effective treatments are really the only tools we have to shut down the spread of this Coronavirus. There are at least two potential treatment that the medical community is aware of that are at least partially effective.
13. If you are quarantined you can be expected to be quarantine for 3 to 4 weeks. This means that before the coronavirus is widespread you may want to stock up on non-perishable food items and some extra water. Be sure to buy some energy drinks that can replenish your electrolytes in case you get diarrhea which can be a symptom of coronavirus infection. Food distribution systems will very likely be in place but do not count on that alone.
14. While the virus has a 3% case fatality rate most people have a mild illness. However some people with a mild illness can rapidly deteriorate. The best medical support for the coronavirus infection at that time is oxygen support.
15. It is possible that this virus can infect domesticated animals and pets. They are for the usual routine quotes affection with your Animal Companions and puss is probably going to be discouraged. For their own protection you may want to designate a room in your house for your pet for animal companion to minimize exposure and to prevent your pet from infecting other family members. When you stock up on food for your household don’t forget to stock up on pet food.
16. There is still time to reduce the rate of spread of this virus substantially by adhering to proactive social isolation practices and self-quarantine whenever possible. Employers should encourage employees to work from home if possible.
17. If you are caught in a situation where you’re in a hotel or other buildings that is quarantined because someone in the building has come down with a diagnosis of coronavirus do not break the quarantine. Each person quarantined in any building should be isolated – and remain isolated – as much as possible. If feasible, each person in the building should have their own toilet.
18. All public spaces should be sanitized by staff members once or twice an hour with lease space disinfectant or with disinfectant that are known to kill coronavirus. The virus likely can last nine days on surfaces without disinfectant. Check the label of your cleaning products label to see if it lists Coronavirus (see #20 for specifical details on disinfectants).
19. In end-stage COVID-19, oxygen support is essential. Pairing non-medical sources of oxygen (industrial, e.g, welding) with medical oxygen masks in the homes of those at highest risk of death may help prolong the life of those at risk. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy will certainly aid those with low oxygen levels. Individuals around the world should stop smoking cigarettes and using inhaled products known to cause lung damage such as vaping.
20. Some of the best disinfectants are likely Oxivir TB and Lysol Disinfecting, both of which are claimed to kill the virus on a surface after two minutes. Check the label of the wipes you purchase to be sure its reads “Kills Coronavirus”.
21. In-home testing kits are needed.
Where Do We Go From Here? The governments and people of the world have a stark choice to make: short-term 3-4 week harsh quarantine and experimental treatments now with antivirals to whatever percentage of the population we can get them to, or prolonged outbreak and cycles of disruption that will last into an indeterminately long future throughout the world.
*Article originally appeared at JamesLyonsWeiler.com. Reposted with permission.