Nasal SARS-CoV-2 is increasing in relevance in the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic,. That’s to be expected as the pandemic evolves. Among the variants of concern the Delta variant currently has increasing global dominance. Massive resources and countless laboratory hours have led to unprecedented detail.
Yet we still lack the answer to where the Nasal SARS-CoV-2 came from?
Soon it will be two years since reports of a new disease arose from Wuhan. Many people sought to blame the Chinese. Would we gain more from congratulating them? After all, they were the first to notice what became known as a new disease. Admittedly the ‘new’ disease was virtually identical to SARS of 2003. However since SARS had gone away human psyche took over. The new deaths must be due to something new.
Last year I blogged that this coronavirus has little to gain from killing people. The virus ‘life’ cycle can be completed without the need for human deaths. Scientists have been unable to show the virus jumped to humans from another species. That leaves the option that it was in humans already, possibly around the world. If so, Nature would have had it in balance before the pandemic began.
But over 4 million deaths show the virus/human relationship is out of balance. I argued that Nature seeks and establishes balance. On that basis the imbalance of COVID-19 must be due to a human factor.
The UK is seeing another major peak of infections as I write this post in mid-July 2021. This time the peak is mainly due to the new Delta variant. That was first identified in India during their recent peak of infections and deaths. Indonesia is currently experiencing a terrible peak of Delta variant infections. All those peaks of infection hint at something unnatural.
We’ve done something to upset Nature’s balance.
Unsurprisingly much of the focus has been on lungs. After all, most COVID victims die from lung damage. However, focusing there diverts attention from the clue to Nature’s balance.
Asymptomatic carriers have been one surprising aspect of this pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 has killed millions of people so it’s a very lethal virus. Yet many infected people have a complete absence of symptoms. Those asymptomatic carriers provide a clue as to where Nature held the virus in balance.
History will reveal the success or failure of our inherent thinking. For almost two years we have looked forward in minute detail. And we’ve failed to find the virus’ source. Failure encourages us to look elsewhere for the missing clues.
Looking back becomes an attractive choice. Many would ask why when the pandemic remains rampant? There is still so much we don’t know so surely we need to keep looking forward. Unpopular as it may be, looking back can reveal missed clues. Wisdom can evoke discomfort. It has a habit of revealing the obvious. Especially when you are strenuously looking elsewhere. I would like to paraphrase an old saying:
Look no further than your nose.
It has amazing pertinence to SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three types of human cells are predominantly attacked by this coronavirus:
- Secretory cells in the nose.
- Absorptive cells in the intestine.
- Secretory cells deep within the lungs.
The clue to asymptomatic carriers lies with the first two cell types. Infected people can show minor nasal and intestinal symptoms. But they are given low prominence because neither kills. We would probably ignore SARS-CoV-2 infection if that was all it achieved.
Attacking just nasal and intestinal cells would mean Nature had the virus and host in balance…
The virus cycle would be complete. New virus would be produced by infected people and passed on. The host would not need to take protective measures. There would be no economic lockdowns. And no pandemic.
Focus for a while on the secretory cells in the nose. Coronavirus particles released from infected nasal cells go two directions. They are either breathed out or breathed in. Those breathed out can infect another person who in turn makes and releases more virus. Those breathed in are trapped in lung mucus. The contaminated mucus is either spat out or swallowed. Inanimate particles like dust and soot are handled in the same way.
Keep in mind that SARS-CoV-2 virus particles are just inanimate objects…
The lungs will treat them as they do particles of dust or soot. They enter deep into the lungs in the air flow. They don’t belong there so they’re caught in the mucus and removed. All very simple and it goes on every day. Nature’s balance.
Coronavirus made in nasal cells and breathed into our lungs is removed. That is Nature’s balance. The virus cycle is completed in the nose as Nature intended. The infected person goes on living as Nature prescribed. There is simply no reason for the virus to get into the specialised secretory cells deep within lungs. Those cells are defended by a layer of mucus. If the virus can’t reach the cells it can’t infect them.
Now consider that the elderly were the most prone to dying from COVID-19…
They died from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Which is why the SARS abbreviation is in the virus’ name. The virus found a way to reach and enter the secretory cells deep within their lungs. Technically they’re called Alveolar Type 2 cells (AT2 cells). Those cells were taken over by the virus. Each infected cell made new virus particles. And each infected cell ceased doing what Nature intended it to do. Ironically AT2 cells secrete the protective mucus. When infected they cease making the mucus which should have trapped virus particles. Less mucus means less defence against the virus.
Elderly people are less able to make the mucus. So they are less able to capture virus breathed deep within the lungs. They are less able to capture and expel virus particles they breath in.
The lung mucus is called Pulmonary Surfactant.
It has two main functions:
- It allows tiny air sacks within lungs to expand and contract with every breath. Newborn babies can only breath when they have made sufficient pulmonary surfactant. Premature babies who have not begun making their own have some put into their lungs. Otherwise they drown in lung fluid.
- The mucus has antiviral components. Less mucus means reduced capacity against viruses.
What happens when elderly people make insufficient or inadequate pulmonary surfactant mucus?
Any SARS-CoV-2 particles they breath in have greater chance of infecting AT2 cells. Each cell infected becomes one less making mucus. Therefore the adjacent cells have less mucus to protect them. New virus particles released by the first cell immediately have easier access to the next AT2 cells.
Death comes when sufficient AT2 cells are making new virus rather than mucus. Insufficient pulmonary surfactant means the air sacks can’t function. The elderly person drowns in their own lung fluid. Premature babies drown when they have not made enough. Elderly COVID victims drown because the virus stopped them making enough.
This provides the missing clue. Recall what happens when an elderly person makes the COVID coronavirus in their nose. Some virus is breathed out. Some is breathed deep into the lungs. If the person has sufficient mucus to capture the virus then Nature has the person in balance with the virus.
The COVID-19 cascade.
What if the elderly person has insufficient protection from mucus? Virus they made in their nose and breathed in attacks AT2 cells and the resultant COVID cascade can kill.
Pulmonary surfactant mucus can be reduced for reasons other than advanced age.
Drinking alcohol is one cause. Drink-drivers know alcohol passes out in their breath. Police use breathalysers to detect it. Why is drinking alcohol relevant to COVID-19? Because alcohol molecules dissolve the mucus. Alcoholic Lung is a relatively new medical term. It occurs after drinking enough alcohol over enough time. The lungs have an amazing capacity to compensate for the alcohol. In fact most people with alcoholic lung are unaware they have it.
Two aspects of alcoholic lung became relevant when the COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus arrived.
- The affected person has weakened pulmonary surfactant mucus.
- Immune cells which should have captured virus deep in their lungs fail to function.
Having the alcoholic lung syndrome means being more prone to developing COVID-19. However, few people have the syndrome. So why mention it here?
The clue is in alcohol molecules passing through the mucus layer. With alcoholic lung the alcohol passes from the blood into the air. It goes through the mucus weakening its defensive properties. Weak mucus is less able to defend against coronavirus deep in the lungs.
Where else might a person encounter alcohol molecules deep in their lungs? When they use an alcohol hand sanitiser. Essential medical evidence to support this has been available for decades. Alcohol can be detected in the blood after use of an alcohol sanitiser. It’s breathed in after evaporating from the sanitised hands. To reach the blood the alcohol passes through the pulmonary surfactant mucus. It is the same alcohol molecule as in the alcoholic lung syndrome; it’s just passing in the opposite direction.
The fact that alcohol vapour dissolves pulmonary surfactant mucus has been known since 1952. Pulmonary Oedema is a rapidly lethal condition in which pulmonary surfactant foams in the airways. Nebulised alcohol removed the foam because alcohol vapour dissolves pulmonary surfactant.
Alcohol passing through the mucus weakens the mucus. And therefore weakens the person’s defences against viruses. That is of little practical concern with viruses like influenza which don’t attack deep in the lungs. Since the SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 virus does infect cells deep in the lungs it becomes critical. Or it does when the virus can get through the mucus defences.
Alcohol sanitisers weaken the lung defences in COVID-19.
This means alcohol sanitisers are a danger in the presence of this coronavirus.
Anyone using an alcohol sanitiser when the virus may be present is taking a risk of the following cascade:
- Solvent alcohol vapours will rise from their hands.
- When they smell the vapour it passes deep into their lungs.
- It weakens the mucus defences.
- That adds to any weakness they already had in those defences.
- A point is reached where the virus can reach and enter an AT2 cell.
- That cell makes new virus and makes less mucus.
- Adjacent AT2 cells then have less mucus to defend them.
- COVID-19 cascade occurs when the virus moves from one cell to another in their lungs.
- Death from COVID-19 occurs when sufficient AT2 cells are attacked.
Some might argue this is being overly dramatic. After all, most people who have used alcohol sanitisers in the presence of this coronavirus are still alive. They argue that only 4 million of the 10 billion humans on earth have died of COVID-19. When their argument is put in those stark numerical terms they usually see the relevance. There is a clue in saying “only” 4 million have died. Just as there is a clue in saying the vast majority who become infected do not die.
Hope comes from investigating the difference between the groups who live or die.
What factors could have cascaded a small percentage to death while the majority lived? Three come to mind:
- Advanced age.
- Drinking too much alcohol for too long.
- Breathing in alcohol vapours rising from sanitised hands.
How we handle advanced age depends on the moral standards in each community.
There is little we can do to stop the decline in the protective nature of their lung mucus.
It is possible to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed in drinks. However prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages has routinely failed. A thriving global industry supplies alcoholic drinks. Any attempt to prevent people drinking alcohol in the hope of slowing the pandemic is doomed to failure.
True hope arises in the third factor. Alcohol-free hand sanitisers have existed for decades. They are safer than alcohol sanitisers as they release no solvent vapours. My company was formed in 2001 on the basis of an alcohol-free hand sanitiser. That was pre-SARS. I invented the product because there were many other reasons why alcohol sanitisers should have been replaced. If you want more details please read Coronoia. Alcohol sanitisers fuel the pandemic? It’s available here and on Amazon.
Important evidence was published during and after the 2003 SARS epidemic…
Included was how AT2 cells are defended by pulmonary surfactant. In 2019 we quickly learned SAR-CoV-2 was killing in the same way SARS-CoV did. Therefore most of the evidence published about SARS was relevant to the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic. Protecting the surfactant from anything which weakened its antiviral effectiveness should have been a priority.
Unfortunately the use of alcohol sanitisers was advocated. Even after 4 million COVID deaths it is still widely used.
Other factors like too much virus can overwhelm the defences. We address those through social distancing and face coverings.
In most previous microbial outbreaks alcohol sanitisers were suitable. With COVID-19 it can be argued these are the worst products to use.
People advocating alcohol sanitiser use may have been unaware of the deleterious side effect of the vapour. Did they realise solvent vapour rising from treated hands damages the defensive lung mucus? If it was a side effect of a desired antiviral product, the damage might be classed as accidental. That would provide a new adjective for the pandemic.
Alcohol vapour weakening the mucus would have given the virus an advantage. Which it didn’t need. Nature was completing the virus cycle perfectly well in noses. Most people with nasal infection were asymptomatic carriers. Nature had the virus and host in balance. Aiding the virus deep in the lungs was a human contribution.
It’s harder to look back when you have been trained to look forward. It’s also both wise and polite to allow the forward-lookers to practice their art. However when they fail to answer fundamental questions it becomes wise to offer assistance. The latter comes from looking back. Including back to 1952 when it was proven alcohol vapour dissolves pulmonary surfactant mucus. Also back to the SARS epidemic of 2003 and the subsequent published evidence.
Vaccines are another reason for looking back. Vaccines injected into arms induce new antibodies in the blood. Those antibodies are effective when the virus enters the blood. However the virus only does that following serious COVID disease.
The COVID-19 cascade begins in the lungs long before that.
Only once there is enough lung damage do the antibodies leave the blood. Then they leach out into the liquid forming in the damaged lung tissue. That’s when the vaccine-induced antibodies meet the virus and protection begins.
Unfortunately the virus replicates first in the mucosa; the outer layer. Blood antibodies like IgG do not reach the mucosa until there is significant damage. Therefore the virus can replicate and be passed on, all out of reach for those vaccine-derived antibodies.
Some countries have a majority of their adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The choice of words is important. They are NOT vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because the virus can still replicate in the nose cells of vaccinated people.
That’s why we’re seeing fewer hospitalisations of seriously ill patients concurrent with an increasing number of infections. Vaccines prevent serious illness rather than replication and spread of nasal SARS-CoV-2.
We should be grateful for the vaccines we have during this pandemic.
Regrettably vaccine-escape variants which have found a way around the vaccines will arise in vaccinated populations. Only time can tell whether the vaccine-escape variants will be more or less dangerous than current variants. But while alcohol vapours remain common, any new vaccine-escape variant will find it easier to damage lung cells.
Of the three factors which ease the route for SARS-CoV-2 into lungs cells, only one can be removed immediately. However, only governments have the power to force the replacement of alcohol sanitisers with safer alternatives. Safer, solvent-free sanitisers which are proven to kill this virus are widely available.
Governments can choose to act or face the question of why they prefer the pandemic. Until Governments take that action they will continue to be reactionary. History shows how that has allowed the virus to kill 4 million people.
If COVID-19 really is an accidental pandemic, it’s one of the worst accidents in human history.