Remdesivir is a new anti-viral drug against coronavirus that was developed by Gilead Sciences. At a press conference in Beijing Dr. Bruce Aylward, an assistant director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that remdesivir was the only anti-viral drug he could think of that would help in the fight against the Covid-19 coronavirus. According to a spokesperson for Gilead Sciences there are presently two trials going on in China. One is dealing with severely affected patients and another with moderately affected patients. The drug has been used to treat patients with Ebola virus. It is also effective in animal experiments against SARS and MERS. These two viruses are very similar to the Wuhan Covid-19 coronavirus.
Other approaches to combat coronavirus
There are other attempts to combat the coronavirus. Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline both announced that they are working on developing a vaccine against coronavirus. Biotech company AbbVie announced that it has seen promising results against Covid-19 coronavirus by mixing Tamiflu (an anti-influenza drug) and two of its HIV medications. Other pharmaceutical companies are also researching new treatment approaches.
What do we know about coronaviruses? It is a group of viruses that look like round balls under the electron microscope. They can affect birds and humans. In chickens and humans, they cause respiratory symptoms, but in cows and pigs they cause diarrhea. The word “corona” derives from the Latin and means “crown” or “halo”. This comes from the characteristic appearance on electron microscope images with a likeness to a solar corona or crown.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
In 2003 there was suddenly an outbreak of a new coronavirus infection. It was a severe form of a flu caused by the SARS virus. The mortality was between 7.5% and 10%.
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
In 2012 the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) caused an outbreak with a high mortality of 34.5%. MERS flared up repeatedly until about 2015.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
In December of 2019 a wave of pneumonia cases occurred in Wuhan, China. The first assumption was that the virus would have originated from the Huanan Seafood Market. Covid-19 coronavirus has a 70% similarity to the SARS virus and a 96% similarity to the bat coronavirus. Today scientists think that Covid-19 coronavirus originated from bats in China. Once the virus learns how to transmit from human to human, there is the possibility of an endemic developing. This is exactly what is happening now. The mortality rate is lower than it was with SARS and MERS-CoV. It lies at about 2.3%.
Treatment approaches to combat Covid-19 coronavirus
We know from flu viruses in general that several treatment approaches work against viruses. Viruses multiply in the lining cells of the respiratory tract. This spans from the nasal passages to the sinuses, the pharynx, larynx, the bronchial tubes and the alveoli in the lungs. The virus can only multiply in living cells. When it gets shed, it infects neighboring cells in which it multiplies again. In the process the virus starts an inflammatory reaction, which makes the patient sick. The final destination is to infect the small air sacs (alveoli) and the lung tissue. This condition has the name viral pneumonia, which ultimately kills the patient unless the immune system produces enough antibodies to overcome the virus.
Three approaches that can help overcome the virus
Vaccination produces specific antibodies against the ordinary flu virus, which can prevent the virus from affecting the patient. In this case circulating preformed antibodies inactivate the virus from the beginning. However, this does not yet work for Covid-19 coronavirus, because vaccination is still in the development stage.
Antiviral drugs, if they are effective, can suppress the infective process of the virus. Some preliminary studies have shown that remdesivir is an effective anti-Covid-19 coronavirus drug. Further studies will show how effective it really is. The deadline for these studies is April 2020.
High doses of vitamin D3
In the meantime, during the SARS epidemic a group of doctors developed an alternative to help stop the SARS coronavirus from re-infecting new cells in the lining of the respiratory tract. High doses of vitamin D3 release cathelicidin and defensins. These are polypeptides that have antibacterial and antiviral properties. This link explains the vitamin D antimicrobial pathway in detail. Vitamin D stimulates the immune system (B cells and T cells), which can suppress viral and bacterial infections.
Vitamin D hammer
Here is another article that recommends the “vitamin D hammer” as the authors termed the mega vitamin D3 therapy. Thornburg describes that an adult should treat a cold/flu within 24 to 36 hours after onset with 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 once daily for 3 days (that’s a total of 150,000 IU over three days). He also lists pediatric doses. Following this treatment, the patient resumes the previous vitamin D3 maintenance dose. Like antiviral drugs vitamin D3 stops the multiplication of the virus in the affected person and can prevent the deadly viral pneumonia. The effect of vitamin D3 is indirect as it releases cathelicidin and defensins that do the work of eradicating the virus.
A new antiviral drug, remdesivir may bring the anticipated break in the treatment of Covid-19 coronavirus. There will be more information available by April 2020. In the meantime, mega doses of vitamin D3 can make a big difference. 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 once daily for 3 days (that’s a total of 150,000 IU over three days) can interrupt the infectious cycle of the virus. Such high doses of vitamin D3 on day 1 or 2 of the disease release cathelicidin and defensins that undermine further multiplication of the virus. It will probably take scientists another year or more to be complete a vaccine. The only thing that helps right now is remdesivir and high doses of vitamin D3. The key is to stop the virus, in order to prevent viral pneumonia. At this point this approach has a chance to improve survival from this new coronavirus.