Let the air in your home fight the virus

airNow that we’re closing our windows we can still take several precautions with the air in our homes.

Open windows. Yes, just leave them open and deal with it.

Take that familiar annoyance for New Yorkers: the clanky radiator that overheats apartments even on the coldest days of the year. It turns out that the prodigious output of steam-heated buildings is the direct result of theories of infection control that were enlisted in the battle against the great global pandemic of 1918 and 1919.

The Board of Health in New York City ordered that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this extreme use case in mind. Steam heating and radiators were designed to heat buildings on the coldest day of the year with all the windows open.

You have to be crazy to live in New York anyway, so go for it.

Air purifiers. Those who have looked into these devices say they can help, but they are hardly a panacea. The EPA says:

When used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others, filtration can be part of a plan to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors.

Consumer Reports says:

We spoke with air quality and virology experts, and asked CR’s own experts to weigh in. The consensus is that while air purifiers probably don’t offer much protection in most circumstances, they may be worthwhile in a few specific ones.If someone in your household is sick with COVID-19, running an air purifier in their quarantine room may help protect other family members or caregivers. The same goes for healthcare workers who are self-quarantining when they come home.

Consumer Reports rates various air filters as do other sites. It depends on your level of comfort with risk and caution. (I bought one.)

Humidity. When cold, dry air comes indoors and is warmed, the relative humidity indoors drops by about 20%. Such a drop in humidity makes it easier for airborne viral particles to travel, according to immunologists.

Their review concludes that studies in mice suggest that a relative humidity of 40–60% is ideal for containing the virus. “That’s why I recommend humidifiers during the winter in buildings,” says the study’s senior author.

Buy an inexpensive humidity gauge online. Too much humidity isn’t good, they say. You can reduce it with a dehumidifier. Aim for 50 percent.

You can increase it with a humidifier. Or you can just boil water on your stove, let the shower run, or place containers of water around the house, including the baseboard heating unit.

Now take a deep breath.

~ Annelidous

A second line of defense under your mask

noseDo masks work? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. Here’s an answer I like, from Dr. Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine: “Wear the mask properly, but act as if the mask does not work.”

What if you could easily add a second line of defense? Provide some protection in your nose and throat where the virus first settles in?

It has been suggested that toothpastes, mouthwashes and nasal rinses might mitigate the virus. A study published in the Journal of Medical Virology found that multiple mouthwash and oral rinse products wiped out a human coronavirus closely related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a laboratory.

Because the mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide oral rinses in the study are widely available and easy to use, “I would recommend the use of the rinses on top of wearing mask and social distancing. This could add a layer of protection for yourself and others,” said lead study author Craig Meyers, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and obstetrics and gynecology, Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“This study adds to and further confirms the recently published evidence from virologists in Germany that mouthwashes can inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19 in a test tube,” Valerie O’Donnell, PhD, co-director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute of Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, said when asked to comment on the study.

That study was in a lab, not in human bodies. Other doctors advocate nasal rinses.

The nasal lining serves an important role in the innate immune system, providing a primary defense against inhaled viruses, bacteria, and other particulates. This lining, consisting of a superficial mucus layer atop an aqueous base, traps inhaled particulates that are then propelled by underlying cilia into the nasopharynx. They are ultimately driven into the gastrointestinal system, where they are destroyed. Topical nasal rinses take advantage of this secretory lining in multiple ways. First, nasal rinses physically disrupt the viscous surface layer, removing the mucus and its associated particulate matter. Additionally, the presence of nasal saline helps to increase hydration of the deeper aqueous layer, simultaneously improving the underlying ciliary beat frequency and reducing local inflammatory mediators. This can be particularly helpful during a viral respiratory infection, in which there is resultant mucociliary dysfunction and mucostasis that occurs secondary to the inflammatory response.

Let me warn you: You can’t just go snorting povidone iodine, hydrogen peroxide or anything else. You can hurt yourself. The concentrations of these things on the market are much too strong for your nose or mouth. They need to be carefully diluted. I first thought that I could swab my nose with hydrogen peroxide on a Q-tip: Nope. Moreover, if you’re doing a nostril rinse you can easily spread the virus. Get a doctor’s advice.

I take a zinc losenge before going into the supermarket. There is evidence that this can help. Dr. Ian Tullberg, a board-certified urgent care and family practice physician at University of Colorado Health, says these may work, but it’s too early to know for sure.

Again, too much zinc can be harmful.

But be careful. More than 150mg/day of zinc may lead to zinc toxicity, with side effects including reduced immune function, according to the NIH. That could leave you worse off than when you started.

These home remedies are like any other medicine: They might work for some but not for others. And they can easily by overdone, creating more problems than they solve.

~ Bunyip

This is not your father’s coronavirus

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice.

boyThe more cases of Kung Flu we see, the more damage we see. Members of Survivor Corps, which has more than 100,000 members on social media, reported 98 ailments — eight times more than what the CDC has listed.

Following is a sampling of what Mao’s Malaise can do to the body.

The Great Invader: How COVID-19 Attacks Every Organ. We have underestimated and misunderstood COVID-19 since it first appeared.

It can be a gastrointestinal disease causing only diarrhea and abdominal pain. It can cause symptoms that may be confused with a cold or the flu. It can cause pinkeye, a runny nose, loss of taste and smell, muscle aches, severe fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, whole-body rashes, and areas of swelling and redness in just a few spots.

In a more severe disease, doctors have also reported people having heart rhythm problems, heart failure, kidney damage, confusion, headaches, seizures, brain inflammation, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and fainting spells, along with new sugar control problems, blood clots throughout the body, and severe immune system responses. It’s not just a fever and coughing, leading to shortness of breath, like everyone thought at first.

Here’s a look at the coronavirus’s complicated journey through the body. Patients with severe symptoms are developing damage in various organs, from the kidneys to the heart. From the very first cases of the novel coronavirus reported in China, doctors knew the virus targeted the lungs. But now, doctors are seeing patients with severe symptoms who are developing other damage around the body — from the kidneys to the heart.

COVID-19 Autopsies Reveal Ravages of ‘Terrible, Terrible’ Disease. COVID-19 has proven in some ways to be as mystifying to pathologists examining the dead as to physicians treating living patients.

“I was surprised at how bad it was,” Amy Rapkiewicz, MD, chair of the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Health’s Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York, told Medscape Medical News. “The degree of respiratory disease was some of the worst I’ve ever seen,” she said. “It’s a terrible, terrible disease. Every organ in the body is pretty much affected.”

Here’s more:

‘I feel like I have dementia’: Brain fog plagues COVID survivors

Doctors probe whether COVID-19 is causing diabetes

Covid-19 could cause male infertility by harming testicular cells that produce sperm, study claims

Long after the fire of a Covid-19 infection, mental and neurological effects can still smolder

 

Why the Kung Flu kills some, not others

genes

It’s a genetic luck of the draw. Here is some explanation:

Genetic or immune defects may impair ability to fight Covid-19.

Genetic or immune defects may impair ability to fight Covid-19. A significant proportion of patients who develop life-threatening forms of Covid-19 have genetic or immunological defects that impair their ability to fight the virus, research has found. The Covid Human Genetic Effort international consortium describes two glitches in severely ill Covid-19 patients that prevent them from making a frontline immune molecule called type 1 interferon. The patients would have carried these glitches for years before the pandemic, or in the case of the genetic errors, all their lives. The discovery may help to explain a mystery surrounding the coronavirus: why it leaves some sufferers sick or dying in intensive care, while others remain barely affected or asymptomatic.

Defects in early immune responses underlie some severe COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 kills some people and leaves others relatively unscathed. But why? Age and underlying health conditions are risk factors, but scientists are trying to tease out other differences, including in people’s genes or immune systems, that may play a role. Two new studies show that flaws in the body’s early response to viral infection, one caused by genetic defects and one by traitorous immune responses, are behind some severe COVID-19 cases.

In one study, published online September 24 in Science, researchers identified certain genetic defects in some people with severe COVID-19 that make the body produce fewer interferons, proteins that are part of the immune system’s early warning system. In other people with severe disease, however, the body’s own immune responses disable interferons, a second study published online in Science the same day finds.

Covid-19 scientists flag key immune function as a turning point in life threatening cases.

Genetic analysis of Covid-19 patients published in the same journal revealed two dozen gene mutations that had been “silent” until patients were infected by SARS-CoV-2. Researchers — many of them also involved in the antibody study — sequenced the genomes of 659 patients with life-threatening cases of the disease; 3.5% carried genetic variations that inhibit interferon production.

Those genetic flaws were similar to the ones that Hoischen and his colleagues from a dozen Dutch centers described in the Journal of the American Medical Association two months ago. The two sets of brothers had inherited a gene mutation that impaired the interferon response, keeping their immune systems from fighting the coronavirus until it had replicated for days.

You don’t get to choose your parents.

~ Karamenderes

Kung Flu: Will exercise protect you?

yanRegular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus, a top exercise researcher reports.

A review by Zhen Yan of the University of Virginia School of Medicine showed that medical research findings “strongly support” the possibility that exercise can prevent or at least reduce the severity of ARDS, which affects between 3% and 17% of all patients with COVID-19. Based on available information, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 20% to 42% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 will develop ARDS. The range for patients admitted to intensive care is estimated at 67% to 85%.

Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggested that approximately 45% of patients who develop severe ARDS will die.

This involves an antioxidant called EcSOD that is produced by the body.  Research suggests that even a single session of exercise increases production of the antioxidant.

“Our findings suggest aerobic exercise is particularly potent in stimulating EcSOD expression,” Yan wrote in an email to Newsweek. “With that said, weight training helps maintain or even increase muscle mass. More muscle mass will likely lead to more EcSOD production, hence more benefits. “Aerobic exercise can be easily done at home, such as [a] stationary bike, aerobic floor exercise and rowing machines. Of course, canoeing, biking and running outside with strict social distance are good options.”

~ Caballine

 

Kung Flu: Will breathing protect you?

nitric

Maybe. If you do it right.

A leading scientist says: Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Breathing this way can help the body fight viral infections.

The reason is that your nasal cavities produce the molecule nitric oxide, which chemists abbreviate NO, that increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO directly into the lungs, where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of the coronavirus in the lungs.

The scientist is Louis J. Ignarro, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. He is one of three pharmacologists who won the Nobel Prize in 1998 for discovering how nitric oxide is produced in the body and how it works.

NO protects your blood vessels, which we now know are attacked by the virus.

NO is produced continuously by the 1 trillion cells that form the inner lining, or endothelium, of the 100,000 miles of arteries and veins in our bodies, especially the lungs. Endothelium-derived NO acts to relax the smooth muscle of the arteries to prevent high blood pressure and to promote blood flow to all organs. Another vital role of NO is to prevent blood clots in normal arteries.

It also directly attacks the virus.

Other types of cells in the body, including circulating white blood cells and tissue macrophages, produce nitric oxide for antimicrobial purposes. The NO in these cells reacts with other molecules, also produced by the same cells, to form antimicrobial agents to destroy invading microorganisms including bacteria, parasites and viruses. As you can see, NO is quite an amazing molecule.

The sinuses in the nasal cavity, but not the mouth, continuously produce NO. This NO  is chemically identical to the NO used clinically by inhalation. So by inhaling through the nose, you are delivering NO directly into your lungs, where it increases both airflow and blood flow and keeps microorganisms and virus particles in check.

~ Aischrolatreia

How will life change after the Kung Flu?

futureAttempts to predict the future fail because we extrapolate from the present and can’t factor in the unexpected.

Bu let’s go ahead and extrapolate from the present anyway to see what might happen.

1 in 5 churches facing permanent closure within 18 months due to COVID-19 shutdowns. “The disruptions related to giving, and maybe even as important to all that, is that even for those churches that have reopened, they’re seeing much smaller numbers of people show up. So simply reopening a church doesn’t fix the underlying economic challenges that you might have.”

The economic damage of rioting lingers for a long time. It is a tragic truth of the recent riots that the damage was worst in areas which were already relatively economically impoverished. Even worse, economic research suggests that the areas afflicted will suffer from the damage inflicted by rioters for years to come.

Life will never be the same for people over 60 — even with a COVID-19 vaccine. These are the likely long-term impacts on gatherings, travel, eating, medicine, home life and even public restrooms. “In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,” said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a think tank on aging around the world. “We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die, or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.”

Jeff Bezos Wants to Turn Shopping Malls into Amazon Warehouses. Many of the department stores previously occupied by Sears and JCPenney, both of which have filed for bankruptcy and closed dozens of stores, have left retail spaces across the country empty. Now, Amazon is attempting to purchase empty retail spaces to create multiple warehouse spaces in cities across the country allowing the e-commerce giant to decrease its delivery times on shipments.

Urban Dwellers Pick Up The Pace On Looking For Homes In Suburbs And Beyond. In crowded housing markets hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, city dwellers are looking at where they want to live through a new lens. During the second quarter of 2020, 51% of realtor.com’s views from urban residents of the nation’s 100 largest metros went to suburban properties in their metros, a record high since the real estate listings website began tracking metro level search data in 2017.

Op-Ed: Thank COVID for These Improvements in Care Delivery. We have seen dramatic shifts in the use of telemedicine in just the past few months. At Kaiser Permanente, healthcare visits delivered remotely have increased from about one in five visits before the pandemic to more than four in five today. The speed with which this shift took place — days and weeks rather than months and years — stands as a collective accomplishment in the rapid evolution of care. And these changes are here to stay.

Is Working From Home The Future Of Work? Nearly half the U.S. workforce might now be remote workers. Cali Williams Yost, a flexwork expert and founder of the Flex + Strategy Group in Madison, N.J. says that as a result of COVID-19: “Work is forever changed” because “flexible work was made for times like these.”

Working from home saved commuters nearly $91 billion. Fewer trips to gas stations and repair shops add another $183 million in daily savings.

Once Marginalized, Homeschooling Hits the Mainstream. Parents with children in government schools are heading for the exits, in search of options that better suit their needs now and in the future. It’s part of an education revolution poised to leave government schools just one option among many, as once-marginalized approaches such as microschools, teaching pods, and homeschooling become perfectly mainstream.

The Guardian view on video conferencing: the future of meetings? Huge numbers have attended online work meetings and social gatherings for the first time, with video conferencing apps downloaded a record 62m times over 10 days in March. Zoom, like Google, has become a verb. Tech enthusiasts promote the idea of the home office and virtual hangout as the new normal.

Will this be one of those sea changes like the move from farm to city? Well, as you know, we can’t predict the future.

~ Palmary

All eyes on Little Tony Fauci

A man wearing an NBC Suit (Nuclear - Biological - Chemical)I was going to write about the possibiliity that the Kung Flu can infect you through your eyes, and then Little Tony comes along, and I have to change what I will say.

It has been suggested for several months that virus-containing droplets coughed up by your Uncle Kevin could get in your system through your eyes.

“I don’t think we can answer that question with 100% confidence at this time,” says H. Nida Sen, MD, director of the Uveitis Clinic at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, MD, and a clinical investigator who is studying the effects of COVID-19 on the eye. But, she says, “I think it is biologically plausible.”

Notice that she’s careful in what she says. It’s the kind of information that you might act on if you’re unusally worried. In fact, I bought some onion-peeling glasses that have foam around the eyes to keep fumes out. Ok, I can be paranoid. I haven’t, you know, actually worn them anywhere. You can also buy safety glasses with the foam; I have some of these, not for the foam, but because they’re safety glasses, and I do a lot of things more dangerous than the Kung Flu, like play with chain saws.

In an email, the agency says it “does not have specific recommendations for the public regarding eye protection. However, in healthcare settings, CDC does recommend eye protection for healthcare workers to prevent transmission via droplets.”

Sen agrees. “For the general public, I don’t think we have enough data to suggest that they should be covering the eyes in some form,” she says.

When she goes to the grocery store, she doesn’t wear eye protection. “I am only wearing goggles when I’m seeing ophthalmology patients up close, basically because I’m 4 or 5 inches away from them.”

Now Tony, a quite visible public health official, had no business saying: “You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,” he continued. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

Do you see him wearing goggles? Of course not. This is the kind of statement likely to create panic and worry. It’s irresponsible. Maybe he has mucosa on the brain.

Maybe Little Tony is too busy basking in the limelight to pay attention to what he’s saying. Next he’ll recommend full hazmat suits because, you know, you can’t be too careful. Maybe he’s stirring up mischief because he despises The Donald. I can say that’s possible if he can say it’s possible to get the Kung Flu through your eyeballs.

~ Seppuku

Chocolate may save you from the Kung Flu

bunnieWe’ve known for some time that dark chocolate is good for you. Yet another study confirms it.

There’s also evidence that cocoa can protect against Mao’s Malaise.

Naturally occurring compounds in cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate, have demonstrated promising antiviral activity against a broader range of viruses—such as hepatitis, herpes simplex, HIV, and influenza—in clinical trials.

Anthocyanins, which are a type of phytochemical found in cocoa, may harbor special potential in augmenting antiviral immune responses. Cocoa consumption has been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system’s inflammatory innate response, as well as the systemic and intestinal adaptive responses. Basic science research has also proven that a diet rich in cocoa enhances T-cell function and leads to the formation of systemic and gut antibodies.

Researchers have concluded that “T. cacao is a promising plant containing anthocyanins to tackle viral infections.”

You know this means dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. You need lots of cocoa. I buy dark chocolate bar with the highest percentage of cocoa. I just bought some that have 95 percent. I also sprinkle cocoa powder on oatmeal.

There’s more: Chocolate creates nitric oxide, which is good for your blood vessels, which the Kung Flu attacks. More:

Nitric oxide, a gas that could improve breathing and potentially mitigate severe symptoms of the coronavirus, is among the latest contenders in the race to find a treatment for COVID-19.

Nitric oxide previously has been used to treat other coronaviruses, including SARS. The virus’ ability to replicate was significantly diminished when the gas was administered, according to a 2004 Swedish study.

See? There is a god.

~ Heteroclite

Will garlic save you from the Kung Flu?

garlicThe experts, and probably your family doctor, will say no.  But people have other ideas and are buying up garlic like it is toilet paper.

There’s no silver bullet for Mao’s Malaise, but garlic won’t hurt you — unless, you know, you eat it non-stop — and it may well help.

Several scientists in Vietnam have looked into it. In many countries people don’t have access to American medicine and have to depend on natural substances. Our doctors have the carefully created meds and don’t rely on the naturals.

A team led by Bui Thi Phuong, MD, PhD concludes: “The results suggest that the garlic essential oil is a valuable natural antivirus source, which contributes to preventing the invasion of coronavirus into the human body.”

That’s about the only sentence you’ll understand in their report, but suffice it to say that it has to do with what garlic does to the ACE2 protein, which the Kung Flu also fiddles with. The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2 “receptor,” is a protein that provides the entry point for the coronavirus to hook into and infect a wide range of human cells. “This,” the Vietnamese scientists write of their work, “is the first report on the inhibitory effects of the considered garlic compounds on the ACE2 protein, which is a crucial foundation about SARS-CoV-2 resistance.” And, wouldn’t you know it, ACE2 receptors are in the nose, mouth and lungs.

However, there’s another reason to take garlic: It protects your blood vesssels, and the Kung Flu attacks them. Garlic also strengthens your lungs, which are also under attack.

Garlic produces nitrous oxide, which could directly affect a Kung Flu infection.

Aside from improving lung function, nitric oxide also showed direct antiviral activity as well as druggable targets including nitrosylating cysteine of viral protease to interfering with S-protein-ACE-2 interaction. Inhaled nitric oxide provided to COVID-19 infected patients will likely prove to be lifesaving through both a pulmonary vasodilator effect and a direct antiviral effect.

Garlic isn’t good for everyone. It’s hard to find a good recommendation on dosage, so I’ll offer this.

Weight lifters take nitrous oxide supplements, but I’d rather get it from food. In addition to garlic, green tea and dark chocolate produce it. So does pomegranate juice. This also explains the recent run on beet root joice. Is that why mothers serve beets?

~ Adynaton