Why Is Covid-19 So Powerful?
I am not an epidemiologist, but do have a big science background—I had to take microbiology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, advanced pathology, calculus and was on my way to med school taking the MCATS and found out WAY to much about Western medicine and found myself in acupuncture school. I love Western Medicine-it is so necessary for trauma, necessary surgeries and for fighting viruses like Covid-19 but its just not great for chronic care at a holistic level. In acupuncture school we had to learn all the western diagnoses and diseases and all the eastern stuff, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet, etc.
Covid-19 is such a big deal because it falls into a certain class of viruses called a ‘retrovirus’. I’ve studied the molecular structure of it, and will try to simplify it for you, because all this stuff on a cellular level gets super deep. So, Covid-19 has these crown-like spikes on the outer surface of the virus molecule, which are actually called ‘spike proteins’, and due to their crown-like appearance, they named it coronavirus. It has single stranded RNA as its nucleic material (what is in the nucleus). There are even sub groups of this virus; alpha, beta, gamma, delta. Only alpha and beta are contagious. As we know it causes ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’ (SARS), acute respiratory distress syndrome(ARDS), and acute lung injury (ALI). This all leads to pulmonary failure as we have understood. Covid-19 is a SARS virus. It has a MUCH higher rate of infection than SARS due to its “genetic recombination” at the S protein (the spike). This spike is actually the receptor binding area and this receptor binding spike glycoprotein is developed from SARS. The virus itself contains genes that encode proteins for viral replication, nucleocapsid and spike formation. The spikes are responsible for the attachment to the host and entry into the body. The entry depends on a number of cellular proteases in the human that allows the spike protein to split and further penetrate, where intermolecular bonding occurs. Once it gets into the cell, it releases RNA into the cells of the host and continues to replicate. Scientists are saying that it is the MUTATION of the spike protein that may have significantly enhanced its binding affinity, and right now it appears that pharmaceutical companies are looking to create a drug that will target this spike glycoprotein. This is why it is highly contagious; it spreads rapidly within the body, breaking down the healthy cell walls and because the virus is airborne it can penetrate into the lung cavity when someone is simply breathing.
Inside the lungs, due to the virus, the lungs get more and more inflamed and it happens quick. Your lungs are made up of small balloons on the end, called alveoli, and the branches on either side look like grapes. These are air sacs that inflate and have capillaries in the walls, which are little blood vessels. The oxygen gets from the air into the lungs and into the blood so it circulate to the body. But with acute respiratory distress syndrome, the lungs become so inflamed, that fluid and extra blood starts going to the lungs (just like your body sends fluid and blood if you get whacked by a baseball bat on the arm). This is the body’s defense mechanism to attempt to heal, as it is having an immune response. However, the virus can injure cell walls of the alveoli so fluid leaks into the alveoli (where there is only supposed to be air), and the person with Covid-19 starts coughing up this fluid, while on a ventilator and basically go into lung failure due to all the fluid.
These ‘retroviruses’, use RNA as its genetic material to infect a cell and uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to convert RNA to DNA, then viral DNA integrates into the DNA of the host which allows the virus to replicate at a rapid rate and is hard to treat before it kills the person. Two key words here- genetic recombination and/or genetic mutation. The virus is a SARS virus but it mutated and became stronger at this S protein spike so it can get in faster and penetrate and take over. It is 80% identical to SARS but its bigger and badder.
They are taking blood plasma of a Covid-19 patient in hopes that the previously infected person has developed antibodies to it and are using it as we would use a flu vaccine. If a person is exposed to micro-doses of the virus the body will hopefully develop antibodies and when the real Covid-19 comes around, you are hopefully immune. It doesn’t always work, often times people (like me) get sick from flu vaccines, but I would probably take a Covid-19 vaccine at this point! Its too new and our bodies do not have any immunity to it.
Pneumonia is secondary to the virus. Pneumonia is just an inflammatory response of one or both lungs filling up with pus or fluid, due to infection. There can be bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia. The lungs are the first defense and your body will try to sneeze, cough, or sweat to get it out, but if it keeps going deeper first it goes to bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchioles and then pneumonia, which is deep in the lungs, as an inflammation of the alveoli). So, people with Covid-19 are basically dying from pneumonia with a killer inside. Pneumonia isn’t only caused by having the flu. It can start with strep, or some infection that can be viral, bacterial or both. That’s why its such a guess sometimes for doctors to try to figure out what it is, so they give Azithromycin (which Trump has stated as a possible solution for Covid-19), aka a Z-pack because its so strong it will kill most bugs (viral or bacteria) that will go into the body. Sometimes something can start as a virus, take over, cause pneumonia and due to the weakened lung condition, thus leaving the person susceptible to a bacterial infection on top of that. This is why Covid-19 is overtaking those with underlying conditions. Viruses love bodies that are already weak or those who have other viruses in latency. Then they can gang up. For example, a person with HIV has a weakened immune system—imagine if they have herpes simplex, Epstein barr and a susceptibility to bronchitis and then Covid-19 comes?
The University of Pittsburgh has actually come up with a potential vaccine. But, it’s the testing that is the stall– It takes months to test the effectiveness. They have isolated the protein from the virus and plan to utilize a patch to deliver the spike protein to the skin, in hopes that the body produces antibodies to the virus. It has been postulated by the science community that a superbug would arise from us as a society taking too many antibiotics. My microbiology teacher explained this like 10 years ago to me and it created this amazing visual. She said ‘imagine something that looks like a mosquito lands on a circle. The mosquito is the virus and the circle is the bacteria. The mosquito has that long stinger-like structure that comes out and injects viral DNA into the bacteria, and there you have it, a superbug.’ Often when someone falls ill, we don’t know what it is–is it a virus or is it bacteria? Sometimes they test, sometimes they don’t. In this case, a lot of testing has been done because it has been wiping out the population. The overuse of antibiotics is a problem because a bacteria can do the same, look at MRSA or Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria), Staph, and an old one-the plague!!! There are some very problematic bacterias. With the overusage of antibiotics, bacterias are mutating the same way SARS has mutated to Covid-19 to become much stronger and ravage the globe. In this case of Covid-19, it is a mutated version of SARS, and these viruses get wiped out by our drugs and then go back in their reservoirs (the bat) to recreate and come out stronger. They did find that bats have anti-SARS-Covid-19 antibodies suggesting that they are a source of viral replication and therefore they think that bats are a key host and reservoir.
With a virus like this, the best thing we can do is stay away from it, and cut off ourselves as the host so it hopefully dies out because it has no host to live in. That means staying home. In addition, we should listen to the CDC guidelines who have said to wear a mask or face covering when going out. They are the experts, so lets listen to the scientists! After all, this is science and we are fighting a war with an invisible enemy. When fighting an enemy, I want to listen to those who know that enemy the best. When it comes to the invisible, microbiology world, it is the scientists who will be able to determine the bug’s next move. Stay safe everyone! We are still doing acupuncture in a very disinfected environment, with masks, for those deemed medically necessary. Feel free to call our Acupuncturist in Franklin to discuss your needs. Hopefully we are all back to normal soon.