BY: DR AMIR FARID ISAHAK, MBBS (QLD), MMED (NUS), MRCOG (UK)
The Wuhan Virus (2019-nCoV) epidemic (soon to be declared pandemic) has got everyone worried about their safety and that of their families. Rightly so, because we have seen how fast the number of infected people is increasing, although the number of deaths is relatively low in comparison (just above 2%).
For example, the Spanish Flu (influenza) pandemic of 1918-1919 infected 500 million (1/3 of the global population then) and killed an estimated 50-100 million people.
The Wuhan Virus is spreading very fast compared to the SARS epidemic (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus in 2003). See the chart below:
The entire SARS episode was over in 6 months (from Nov 2002) with 8096 infected and 774 deaths (less than 10% fatality rate).
The Wuhan and SARS coronaviruses are similar in structure, and give similar symptoms, although SARS was more virulent, with a higher fatality rate.
But the Wuhan Virus is spreading at a much faster rate, with over 30,000 cases in less than 2 months. The rapid spread is also due to the timing of its outbreak just when 5 million people left Wuhan to various parts of China and to other countries for the Chinese New Year holidays. And with tourism and air travel being so popular among the Chinese, the spread to the rest of the world was inevitable.
Fortunately, the fatality rate is low (2%), and drastic measures taken by many countries to curb the spread should mitigate the spread. These include the lockdown of entire cities, closure of borders,
banning of air travel, quarantine of suspected cases, home-isolation of at-risk cases and contact-tracing.
The virus genome was identified early, and several countries have succeeded in replicating the virus. Successful treatments with antivirals have emerged, and there are intensive efforts to produce a vaccine.
However, until the vaccine is available, and until the antiviral treatments become consistently successful, the threat of the pandemic remains.
In the meantime, we all should follow the guidelines to avoid being infected (Wash hands frequently; Use mask correctly; Have medical check early if you develop any symptoms; Avoid those with symptoms & avoid big crowds; and Never touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands).
We should also strengthen our immune defense against the virus. We must lead a healthy lifestyle, eat a healthy diet with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits, veggies and spices, exercise sufficiently and consider immune-boosting supplements.
Among the most important immune boosters is glutathione. It is needed by all the immune cells to function properly, including fighting viral infections. Studies show that many immune problems, including auto-immune diseases, are related to having deficient glutathione in the immune cells.
Pathogenic viruses are harmful by replicating in our cells, and then spreading to and damaging the target organs.
Lab studies showed that adding glutathione can reduce HIV-1 viral replication by over 99%! This may well apply to other viral infections, including coronaviruses.
Some studies showed that oxidative stress (having excess free radicals) in the host can cause infecting viruses to become more virulent! Glutathione is crucial because it is the most important antioxidant for our cells to overcome oxidative stress.
Severe morbidity and deaths from the Wuhan Virus, just as for SARS virus, occur mainly due to the severe inflammation of the lungs. Again, glutathione is essential to prevent this as it is a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
The role of glutathione is so vast in viral infections, such that since 1997 scientists knew that intracellular glutathione levels can directly predict the prognosis of HIV-1 infections. Perhaps if studies were done on other viruses, they may find the same conclusion!
The most efficient way to boost glutathione by oral supplementation is to take the glutathione-precursor ribo-cysteine (Riboceine™), which boosts glutathione 300% better than the next best precursor N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC