Omicron and the Vaccine Conundrum

Omicron and the Vaccine Conundrum

With record levels of Covid cases at an all-time high since the onset of the pandemic due to the latest highly transmissible Omicron variant[1] ,people across the globe are increasingly fed up with ineffective methods to control the transmission by lockdowns, mandates and inoculating the planet. As we head into the third year of the virus, it’s time for governing bodies to change the strategy for living in a post-pandemic world.

Recently, a leading Israeli Immunologist, Professor Ehud Qimron, head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University declared, in an open letter to the Israel Health Ministry regarding COVID-19 policy [2]: “The truth is that you have burned hundreds of billions of shekels to no avail – for publishing intimidation, for ineffective tests, for destructive lockdowns, and for disrupting the routine of life in the last two years.” He goes on to say: “In the end, the truth will always be revealed, and the truth about the coronavirus policy is beginning to be revealed. When the destructive concepts collapse one by one, there is nothing left but to tell the experts who led the management of the pandemic – we told you so.”

Continue reading “Omicron and the Vaccine Conundrum”

Vaccines No Match for Omicron and a Look at COVID-19 in Africa

Vaccines No Match for Omicron and a Look at COVID-19 in Africa

We’ve been living with COVID-19 now for more than two years, and questions continue to

The Observer view on the Omicron variant | Observer editorial | The Guardian

arise about the best approach for prevention and treatment. I have never been asked about anything as much as the COVID-19 vaccines and never have I seen so much doubt and confusion among so many people. The emergence of the Omicron variant has made the issue more confusing and raises more questions about the efficacy of vaccines against COVID-19. Interpreting the reality of the effectiveness of these vaccines is complicated, especially when some of the new data is not robust and is often murky. Patients and doctors looking to the CDC for guidance in decision-making receive low-quality or outdated information. All too often, straightforward relative data – such as the benefits of normalizing vitamin D and zinc levels – is ignored. Please see my earlier blogs on Zinc and Vitamin D for more information hereZinc the Most Important Nutrient for Immunity” and “There’s No Substitute for Sunlight: The Essential Influence of Nature’s Sunshine Vitamin on Health

Continue reading “Vaccines No Match for Omicron and a Look at COVID-19 in Africa”

Is Omicron the “Scrooge” or Could it be the “Ideal” Variant to Put an End to the Pandemic?

Although Omicron is now 73% of all new cases in the US[1],  I don’t feel we need to press the panic button. I have some hypotheses on the emergence of the Omicron variant that could put the brakes on the doom and gloom scenario we are all being fed.

Photo from the Hollywood Mirror

According to a study published on December 16th, authored by more than 20 scientists at Columbia and the University of Hong Kong, a striking feature of the Omicron variant is the large number of spike mutations that pose a threat to the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine boosters and antibody therapies.[2] The scientists express concern that the variant’s “extensive” mutations can “greatly compromise” the vaccine, even neutralizing it. The report said the booster shots prevent some of the neutralization, but the variant “may still pose a risk” for those with their third shot. “Even a third booster shot may not adequately protect against Omicron infection,” the study said.

Omicron is spreading faster than previous variants of the novel coronavirus with the virus now in at least 90 countries since it first appeared in South Africa last month. Therefore, the Omicron variant could “out compete” other variants, including the more dangerous Delta variant – thus becoming the dominant variant. However, Omicron infections seem to be less severe and hospitalization and death nowhere near the rates of the other variants. Early reports suggest South Africa were reporting that people testing positive are presenting with mild symptoms: “In fact, they said, most of their infected patients were admitted for other reasons and have no Covid symptoms.” In other words, most of these patients had evidence of infection with SARS-CoV-2 but did not have COVID-19.[3]

What about Africa and Omicron?

There is something “mysterious” going on in Africa that is puzzling scientists, said Wafaa El-Sadr, chair of global health at Columbia University. “Africa doesn’t have the vaccines and the resources to fight COVID-19 that they have in Europe and the U.S., but somehow they seem to be doing better,” she said. Fewer than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated.

“I think there’s a different cultural approach in Africa, where these countries have approached COVID-19 with a sense of humility because they’ve experienced things like Ebola, polio and malaria,” Sridhar said.

In past months, the coronavirus has pummeled South Africa and is estimated to have killed more than 89,000 people there, by far the most deaths on the continent. But for now, African authorities, while acknowledging that there could be gaps, are not reporting huge numbers of unexpected fatalities that might be COVID-19 related. WHO data shows that deaths in Africa make up just 3% of the global total. In comparison, deaths in the Americas and Europe account for 46% and 29%.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the government has recorded nearly 3,000 deaths so far among its 200 million population. The U.S. records that many deaths every two or three days.[4]

Why Some Viruses Can Be Good

Not all viruses are bad, and perhaps the Omicron variant could actually help us to overcome the pandemic. Omicron, like some viruses, can actually fight against more dangerous viruses and more dangerous COVID-19 variants such as the Delta variant. Keep in mind that viruses typically evolve to become less lethal over time. Like wolves domesticated into dogs, disease-causing viruses seem to become tamer in an effort to survive. The reasoning goes that, sooner or later, SARS-CoV-2 must “lose its fangs and become as boring as the common cold”.[5]

Generally, like protective bacteria (probiotics), we have several protective viruses in our body. I am a believer in hormesis and building adaptive response/immunity. For example, viral infections at a young age are important to ensure the proper development of our immune system.  Yet, we keep believing we should vaccinate against everything that poses a threat, even if the threat is mild. We should vaccinate when we have a real threat, and we have proven, non-leaky, and safe vaccines. But this should still be a personal decision and based on a multitude of factors; such as the frail and elderly. Elderly individuals are the most susceptible to an aggressive form of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2. 

In some cases, latent (non-symptomatic) herpes viruses can help human natural killer cells (a specific type of white blood cell) identify cancer cells and cells infected by other pathogenic viruses. They arm the natural killer cells with antigens (a foreign substance that can cause an immune response in the body) that will enable them to identify tumor cells.[6]

Researchers working in Uganda said they found COVID-19 patients with high rates of exposure to malaria were less likely to suffer severe disease or death than people with little history of the disease.

If the Omicron variant is truly as transmissible as the say and significantly less harmful – some reports say 1/10 as strong – should we be afraid of it?

The main part of my personal practice is supporting people with cancer, and there are many situations where approaching cancer with low-dose metronomic chemotherapy yields significantly better results than standard-of-care high dose chemotherapy. In Oncology, systemic chemotherapies typically use the maximum tolerated dose to cause maximum tumor cell death. However, this paradigm has been challenged, particularly in older people and those who have reoccurring cancer, by theoretical models of tumor evolution, which suggest that removal of all cells that are sensitive to chemotherapy permits unopposed proliferation of any remaining resistant cells — a phenomenon called ‘competitive release’. Competitive release applies to viruses and different mutations and occurs when one of two species competing for the same resource disappears, thereby allowing the remaining competitor to utilize the resource more fully than it could in the presence of the first species.

Based on this model, an evolution-based treatment strategy that maintains a residual population of chemotherapy-sensitive cells should suppress growth of resistant cells when therapy is withdrawn, as the drug-sensitive cells have a fitness advantage in this condition.

A 2016 study designed an evolution-based treatment strategy using taxol (paclitaxel) adaptive therapy (AT), and compared this with standard taxol therapy (ST) in orthotopic xenograft mouse models of triple-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Two AT regimens were tested: AT-1, which maintains dosing frequency, but decreases paclitaxel dose as a tumor responds, and AT-2, which uses the same doses of paclitaxel, but doses are skipped when a tumor has responded. The treatment algorithms relied on tumor volume measurements determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as this could be used clinically.

In both mouse models, ST initially suppressed tumor growth, but exponential growth resumed following treatment cessation. AT-1 had the same effect as ST initially but was able to maintain a stable tumor burden similar to the initial tumor volume throughout the experiment (∼2 months). This allowed continued reduction of the paclitaxel dose, and eventually treatment withdrawal in some cases. Interestingly, AT-2 controlled tumor volume for longer than ST, but unlike AT-1, tumors treated using AT-2 eventually progressed. A direct comparison between AT-1 and AT-2 indicated that AT-1 provided better tumor growth control.[7]

The failure to trigger an effective adaptive immune response in combination with a higher pro-inflammatory tonus may explain why the elderly do not appropriately control viral replication and the potential clinical consequences triggered by a cytokine storm, endothelial injury, and disseminated organ injury.[8]

Perhaps the best approach would be to implement strategies, such as herbal medicine and nutritional compounds, including Zinc, Vitamin D, Quercetin, Selenium and an immune health-promoting diet, which provides a diverse and robust GUT microbiota.  This would be a sensible, cost-effective, approach that supports and optimizes innate health and the immune response.  

Dysregulation of the gut microbiota (gut dysbiosis) is an important risk factor as the gut microbiota is associated with the development and maintenance of an effective immune system response.[9] The elderly have a significantly increased susceptibility to infections and it has been reported that probiotic bacteria from the genus bifidobacterium can enhance certain aspects of cellular immunity in the elderly.[10] The best places to find this beneficial bacterium are yogurt, probiotics like kefir, or sauerkraut.

Selenium is a trace mineral which is deficient in many people. It plays an important role in free radical scavenging, targeting oxidative damage, a major factor in the COVID-19 “cytokine storm,” which is the immune response with an overproduction of cytokines and other immune cells that can lead to a rapid multi-organ failure and damage to the lungs, heart and kidneys.[11]  Animal studies show that selenium with ginseng stem/leaf saponins increase the immune response against infectious bronchitis causes by a live coronavirus vaccine.[12]

This may provide all those infected by SARS-CoV-2, to develop a milder disease and help them to clear the virus through an efficient adaptive immune response. With a milder form of COVID-19, being infected by the Omicron variant could be the path to building natural immunity which builds effective immune memory that can persist for decades and typically results in enhanced responses and accelerated pathogen control, and a generation of robust and durable T and B cell alike;[13] and this goes beyond the detection of antibodies. The absence of specific antibodies in the serum does not necessarily mean an absence of immune memory.[14] 

Wishing a Joyous Christmas, Winter Solstice, belated Chanukah, and a Happy New Year to you and our world. May our prayers be our words in deeds, and may our earth be made very peaceful because of each of us.


[1] https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/96309?xid=nl_covidupdate_2021-12-21&eun=g1065123d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyUpdate_122121&utm_term=NL_Gen_Int_Daily_News_Update_active

[2] Lihong Liu, Sho Iketani, Yicheng Guo, Jasper Fuk Woo Chan, Maple Wang, Liyuan Liu, Yang Luo, Hin Chu, Yiming Huang, Manoj S. Nair, Jian Yu, Kenn Ka-Heng Chik, Terrence Tsz-Tai Yuen, Chaemin Yoon, Kelvin Kai-Wang To, Honglin Chen, Michael T. Yin, Magdalena E. Sobieszczyk, Yaoxing Huang, Harris H. Wang, Zizhang Sheng, Kwok-Yung Yuen, David D. Ho; Striking Antibody Evasion Manifested by the Omicron Variant of SARS-CoV-2, preprint doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.14.472719

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Glossary, Principles in Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Third Edition, reviewed July 2, 2014, accessed December 17, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/glossary.html.

[4] MARIA CHENG and FARAI MUTSAKA, November 18, 2021·6 min read, Cheng reported from London. Rahim Faiez in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Chinedu Asadu in Lagos contributed to this report. https://sports.yahoo.com/why-double-mask-prevent-covid-235151606.html?utm_source=spotim&utm_medium=spotim_recirculation

[5] https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/covid-19/do-bad-viruses-always-become-good-guys-end, Jonathan Jarry M.Sc. | 18 Dec 2021, COVID-19, Do Bad Viruses Always Become Good Guys in the End?, McGill University

[6] https://theconversation.com/viruses-arent-all-nasty-some-can-actually-protect-our-health-117678, 08/2019, retrieved 12/16/2021

[7] Seton-Rogers, S. Preventing competitive release. Nat Rev Cancer 16, 199 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc.2016.28

[8] Cunha LL, Perazzio SF, Azzi J, Cravedi P, Riella LV. Remodeling of the Immune Response With Aging: Immunosenescence and Its Potential Impact on COVID-19 Immune Response. Front Immunol. 2020 Aug 7;11:1748. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01748. PMID: 32849623; PMCID: PMC7427491.

[9] Chen J, Vitetta L, Henson JD, Hall S. The intestinal microbiota and improving the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations. J Funct Foods. 2021 Dec;87:104850. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2021.104850. Epub 2021 Nov 10. PMID: 34777578; PMCID: PMC8578005.

[10] Chiang, B. L., Sheih, Y. H., Wang, L. H., Liao, C. K., & Gill, H. S. (2000). Enhancing immunity by dietary consumption of a probiotic lactic acid bacterium (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019): Optimization and definition of cellular immune responses. European Journal

[11] Chen C, Zhang XR, Ju ZY, He WF. (2020). Advances In The Research Of Cytokine Storm Mechanism Induced By Corona Virus Disease 2019 And The Corresponding Immunotherapies. Zhonghua Shao Shang Za Shi (Chinese Journal of Burns), 36(0), E005. doi: 10.3760/cma.j.cn501120-20200224-00088. http://rs.yiigle.com/yufabiao/1183285.htm

[12] Ma X, Bi S, Wang Y, Chi X, Hu S. Combined Adjuvant Effect Of Ginseng Stem‐Leaf Saponins And Selenium On Immune Responses To A Live Bivalent Vaccine Of Newcastle Disease Virus And Infectious Bronchitis Virus In Chickens. Poult Sci. 2019;98:3548‐3556. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps/pez207

[13] Jarjour NN, Masopust D, Jameson SC. T Cell Memory: Understanding COVID-19. Immunity. 2021;54(1):14-18. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2020.12.009

[14] Cox RJ, Brokstad KA. Not just antibodies: B cells and T cells mediate immunity to COVID-19. Nat Rev Immunol. 2020 Oct;20(10):581-582. doi: 10.1038/s41577-020-00436-4. PMID: 32839569; PMCID: PMC7443809.

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Essential Oils with Anti-Viral Properties

Spices, herbal medicines, essential oils, and distilled natural products provide a rich source of compounds for the discovery and production of novel antiviral drugs. The determination of the antiviral mechanisms of these natural products has revealed how they interfere with the viral life cycle, i.e., during viral entry, replication, assembly, or discharge, as well as virus-specific host targets.[1] 

[2]

A number of essential oils exhibit anti-viral and anti-influenza activities. These include Cinnamomum zeylanicum leaf oil (cinnamon), Citrus bergamia (bergamot), Cymbopogon flexuosus (lemongrass) and Thymus vulgaris (Red Thyme).[3] In studies, a blend of essential oils has been proven to inhibit the infectivity of influenza virus via inactivating viral binding ability and viral protein translation.[4]

Eucalyptus essential oil has been shown to improve the innate cell-mediated immune response and can be used as an immunoregulatory agent against infectious diseases.[5],[6] Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are capable of inactivating influenza virus A.[7] Geranium and lemon essential oils downregulate ACE2, a SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain in epithelial cells, and are valuable natural anti-viral agents that may contribute to the prevention of the invasion of SARS-CoV-2 into the human body.[8]

Tea tree essential oil inhibits influenza during the early stages by preventing intracellular processing of the viral particle. When introduced into cell culture media, tea tree oil prevented viral uncoating by interfering with the acidification of the endosomes and membrane fusion. The ability to prevent endosome acidification was ascribed to the tea treeessential oil constituents terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol and terpinolene. Tea treeessential oil, when actively diffused with a nebulizer for two seconds, cleared nearly all airborne influenza viruses at 10 minutes, and showed zero virus at 15 minutes post nebulizer treatment. Eucalyptus essential oil showed zero virus at 15 minutes following a 15 second period of active diffusion with a nebulizer.[9]

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) Leaves

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) essential oil has been used extensively to prevent HSV infection and to inhibit influenza viruses. Lemon balm essential oil has been shown to prevent attachment of the virus to host cell surface cell receptors.[10] Studies show that viral induced autophagy was effectively inhibited by clove bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) essential oil and eugenol in cells infected with 8 separate flu viruses. And a blend of clove bud and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oils has been shown to inhibit viral protein production.[11]

Essential oils are complex mixtures of compounds and several essential oil components may act synergistically to inhibit the virus.[12] For example, a study evaluated the in vitro antiviral effect against influenza type A (H1N1) of commercial essential oils that included cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), bergamot (Citrus bergamia), lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). The oils were tested in the liquid phase at a concentration of 0.3% and in the vapor phase. The oils of cinnamon, bergamot, thyme, and lemongrass displayed 100% inhibition of H1N1 in the liquid phase, while the inhibition for lavender essential oil was 85%. However, in the vapor phase, 100% inhibition was observed only for cinnamon leaf essential oil after 30 min of exposure. The bergamot, lemongrass, thyme, and lavender essential oils displayed inhibition rates of 95%, 90%, 70%, and 80%, respectively.[13]

Limonene is a terpene compound found in many citrus oils. It may be a possible agent or adjuvant against infection, immunity, and inflammation in COVID-19.

[14]

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a variety of ways to use essential oils. For optimal results, I recommend using a blend of oils. To use essential oils therapeutically:

  1. Treat face masks by sprinkling a few drops onto the outer surface;
  2. As an aerosol disinfectant or a surface sanitizing agent, combine 5% essential oil blend,  60% alcohol and 35% distilled water in a spray bottle;
  3. Add essential oil to a diffuser;
  4. Mix with a carrier oil and rub on hands and neck area. Use 5% EO blend to carrier oil (a blend of coconut and almond oil is very nice);
  5. Add to a bath with Epsom salts and mustard powder (I like Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath with essential oils). Use 1-2 cups of Epsom salts, 1 tablespoon mustard powder, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 10-20 drops of essential oil blend. Taking this bath before bedtime with a diaphoretic tea blend is wonderful for helping with fevers, chills, and body aches.
  6. Inhalation steam: Add 3-5 drops to a bowl of hot water, lean your head over the bowl, put a towel over your head and bowl, and breathe in the vapor.

Surgical masks are helpful for preventing virus spread into the air and transmission to humans. However, after mask removal, the virus remains on the mask and is probably re-aerosolized, increasing the risk of human infection. Coating the mask with a few drops of essential oil, or spraying the mask with an aerosol spray of essential oil blend as described above, may be helpful.

Lavender

Along with antiviral activity, there may be some relief of symptoms of COVID-19 provided by essential oils including relaxation and mood enhancement. For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis (65 RTCs) review paper on the effects of lavender essential oil found lavender to be very effective at reducing anxiety.[15]

There are nondrug therapeutic strategies targeting inflammatory and immunological processes that may be useful for reducing COVID-19-induced complications and improving patient outcome. For example, vagal nerve stimulation has a wide field of therapeutic benefit for patients and could easily be combined with the best current medical strategies. Vagus nerve stimulation attenuates inflammation both in experimental models and preliminary data in people. The development of non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation, a non-pharmacological adjuvant, may help reduce the burden of COVID-19 and could be investigated more thoroughly.[16]  Continuous vagal tone monitoring in patients with COVID-19 could be used as a predictive marker of COVID-19 illness, as well as a predictive marker of response to COVID-19 treatment such as VNS or others.[17]

Activation of your vagus nerve counteracts your sympathetic nervous system. Stimulating the vagus nerve is a quick and easy way to relieve anxiety and  is the “yin” activator that can reduce heart rate and blood pressure and stimulate digestion.

The vagus nerve functions in the service of awakening (sub or super) consciousness and in immortality – the connection to Spirit. This system is described in the Tibetan Inner Fire meditations as well as in the Taoist, “shen” breathing practices.[18]

When you stimulate your vagus nerve, it releases an array of anti-stress enzymes and hormones such as acetylcholine, prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin. Vagus nerve stimulation is associated with benefits such as improved memory, immune function, sleep, and higher levels of growth hormone. It can also help to regulate immune function – buffering inflammation, allergic responses, and even tension headaches. Increased positive social connections are also beneficial for your overall wellbeing. Positive emotions, positive social connections, and physical health influence one another in a self-sustaining upward-spiral dynamic.[19]

Repetitive meditation or prayer, often with beads or knotted ropes, and controlled deep breathing are other relaxation technique that can have health benefits.  

In these challenging times, when we’re constantly confronted with uncertainty, one of the most beneficial things we can do for our emotional and physical wellbeing is to practice being present, calm, and grateful. I recommend preparing a relaxing candlelight bath with lavender essential oil and reading and reflecting on something you find spiritually nourishing to relieve stress and lift the spirits. 


[1] Panyod S, Ho CT, Sheen LY. Dietary therapy and herbal medicine for COVID-19 prevention: A review and perspective. J Tradit Complement Med. 2020 May 30;10(4):420-427. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2020.05.004. PMID: 32691006; PMCID: PMC7260602.

[2] Boukhatem MN, Setzer WN. Aromatic Herbs, Medicinal Plant-Derived Essential Oils, and Phytochemical Extracts as Potential Therapies for Coronaviruses: Future Perspectives. Plants (Basel). 2020 Jun 26;9(6):800. doi: 10.3390/plants9060800. PMID: 32604842; PMCID: PMC7356962.

[3] Vimalanathan S., Hudson J. Anti-influenza virus activity of essential oils and vapors. Amer J Essential Oil Nat Prod. 2014;2(1):47–53.

[4] Wu S.H., Patel K.B., Booth L.J., Metcalf J.P., Lin H.K., Wu W.X. Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: an in vitro study in mdck cells. BMC Compl Alternative Med. 2010;10:69.

[5] Serafino A., Vallebona P.S., Andreola F. Stimulatory effect of eucalyptus essential oil on innate cell- mediated immune response. BMC Immunol. 2008;9:17. [PMCID: PMC2374764] [PubMed: 18423004]

[6] Sadlon A.E., Lamson D.W. Immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects of eucalyptus oil and simple inhalation devices. Alternative Med Rev. 2010;15(1):33–42.

[7] Pyankov O.V., Usachev E.V., Pyankova O., Agranovski I.E. Inactivation of airborne influenza virus by tea tree and eucalyptus oils. Aerosol Sci Tech. 2012;46(12):1295–1302.

[8] Senthil Kumar KJ, Gokila Vani M, Wang CS, et al. Geranium and Lemon Essential Oils and Their Active Compounds Downregulate Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), a SARS-CoV-2 Spike Receptor-Binding Domain, in Epithelial Cells. Plants (Basel). 2020;9(6):E770. Published 2020 Jun 19. doi:10.3390/plants9060770

[9] Letters in Applied Microbiology, vol. 49, 2009, pp. 806-808. doi:10.1111/j.1472-765X.2009.02740.x; Antiviral Research, vol. 89, 2011, pp. 83-88. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2010.11.010; Journal of Aerosol Science, vol. 59, 2013, pp. 22-30. doi:10.1016/j.jaerosci.2013.01.004

[10] Pourghanbari, Gholamhosein, et al. “Antiviral activity of the oseltamivir and Melissa officinalis L. essential oil against avian influenza A virus (H9N2).” Indian Journal of Virology, vol. 27, no. 2, 2016, pp. 170-178. doi:10.1007/s13337-016-0321-0

[11] Ramos A, Santos C, Mateiu L, et al. Frequency and pattern of heteroplasmy in the complete human mitochondrial genome. PLoS One. 2013;8(10):e74636. Published 2013 Oct 2. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074636

[12] Silva JKRD, Figueiredo PLB, Byler KG, Setzer WN. Essential Oils as Antiviral Agents. Potential of Essential Oils to Treat SARS-CoV-2 Infection: An In-Silico Investigation. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 12;21(10):3426. doi: 10.3390/ijms21103426. PMID: 32408699; PMCID: PMC7279430.

[13] Vimalanathan S., Hudson J. Anti-influenza virus activity of essential oils and vapors. Am. J. Essent. Oils Nat. Prod. 2014;2:47–53

[14] Nagoor Meeran MF, Seenipandi A, Javed H, Sharma C, Hashiesh HM, Goyal SN, Jha NK, Ojha S. Can limonene

 be a possible candidate for evaluation as an agent or adjuvant against infection, immunity, and inflammation in COVID-19? Heliyon. 2020 Dec 11;7(1):e05703. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e05703

[15] Donelli D, Antonelli M, Bellinazzi C, Gensini GF, Firenzuoli F. Effects of lavender on anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytomedicine. 2019 Dec;65:153099. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2019.153099. Epub 2019 Sep 26. PMID: 31655395.

[16] Azabou E, Bao G, Bounab R, Heming N, Annane D. Vagus Nerve Stimulation: A Potential Adjunct Therapy for COVID-19. Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 May 7;8:625836. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.625836. PMID: 34026778; PMCID: PMC8137825.

[17] Bonaz B, Sinniger V, Pellissier S. Targeting the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway with vagus nerve stimulation in patients with Covid-19? Bioelectron Med. 2020 Jul 29;6:15. doi: 10.1186/s42234-020-00051-7. PMID: 32743022; PMCID: PMC7387121.

[18] Brown D., The energy body and its functions: immunosurveillance, longevity, and regeneration, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug;1172:312-37. doi: 10.1196/annals.1393.019.

[19] Kok BE, Coffey KA, Cohn MA, Catalino LI, Vacharkulksemsuk T, Algoe SB, Brantley M, Fredrickson BL. How positive emotions build physical health: perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychol Sci. 2013 Jul 1;24(7):1123-32. doi: 10.1177/0956797612470827.

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What the Science Really Says About Natural Immunity vs. Vaccine Immunity, Strategies for Dealing with Ongoing Variants, and the Latest Research on the Risk of Breakthrough Infections in Cancer Patients

Immune response to coronavirus
Image: Health Matters

When it comes to the question of vaccine immunity verses natural immunity, the stance taken by the CDC is that vaccine immunity is stronger, which they maintain is confirmed by research. But when you analyze the study they use and compare it to, for example, the Israeli study that states the opposite, there is an enormous discrepancy. And this discrepancy is between studies that are designed to answer the same question.

The Israeli study[1] found that the vaccinated have a 27 times higher risk of symptomatic infection than those who recovered from Covid-19 infection. At the same time, the vaccinated were nine times more likely to be hospitalized for Covid. In contrast, a CDC study[2] by Bozio et al. claims that the Covid recovered are five times more likely to be hospitalized for Covid than the vaccinated. Both studies cannot be right. 

While a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released findings that alleged recovered individuals have a 5.5 times more likely chance of being hospitalized when compared to vaccinated people with no prior infection, no other independent research corroborates these findings.

This CDC report was recently dismantled by Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Martin Kulldorf and was revealed to have fatal flaws.[3]  He states that the Israeli study was a “straightforward and well-conducted epidemiological cohort study that is easy to understand and interpret.” At the same time, he found the US study filled with flaws, deeming it fatally flawed. He goes on to say, “It is surprising that the CDC chose this case-control design rather than the less biased cohort design selected by the Israeli authors. Such an analysis would answer the question of interest and may have given a different result more in line with the Israeli study.”

A very recent December 4th, 2021, study[4] supported the finding of the Israeli study, in that infected individuals with or without one vaccination dose have better protection than uninfected doubly-vaccinated individuals 3 to 8 months after the last immunity-conferring event. The data from this study does not suggests that vaccinated individuals were more protected than previously infected individuals 3 to 6 months after the immunity-conferring event. This study highlights that hybrid immunity is the strongest immunity.  In other words, those that have been both infected and have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

How the Omicron Variant Differs

Other variants including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta have had maybe eight or 10 mutations in the spike protein, and that’s largely what’s given them their advantageous phenotype. Omicron originated with 30 or more mutations in the spike protein!

There has been rapid spread in South Africa’s Gauteng province of Omicron as it rapidly replaces Delta. Omicron is spreading almost three times faster when compared to the Delta variant, which was two times faster compared to previous variants.

Early Lab Data Provide Glimpse into Omicron’s Immune Escape

Preliminary data from a small study at a prominent South African lab have found a 41-fold reduction in neutralizing antibody titers for the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron.

Virologist Florian Krammer, PhD, of Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, noted that the drop was significant and raised concerns.[5]

Omicron was first identified on 23 November in South Africa by researchers using genome sequencing to investigate a puzzling surge in case numbers there. Daily cases went from 274 on 11 November to 1000 a fortnight later, and currently number more than 2000.

Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna, has predicted that omicron will cut the efficacy of existing vaccines. The new variant is also expected to be more resistant to antibody treatments such as those developed by Regeneron. “That is really a cause for concern,” says Barclay.[6]

Most experts now propose Omicron most likely developed in a chronically infected Covid-19 patient, likely someone whose immune response was impaired by another illness or a drug. When Alpha was first discovered in late 2020, that variant also appeared to have acquired numerous mutations all at once, leading researchers to postulate a chronic infection. The idea is bolstered by sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples from some chronically infected patients.[7]

Cancer Patients May Have Double the Risk of Breakthrough Infection After Covid-19 Vaccination

Most patients with solid tumors develop antibodies after Covid-19 vaccination, but many patients with hematologic malignancies fail to seroconvert, according to a meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Cancer.[8] Studies have shown that a “substantial proportion” of blood cancer patients who did not produce anti-S antibodies following complete vaccination continue to be seronegative after receiving an additional dose.[9]

The fact that some patients have poor immune responses even after 3 vaccine doses highlights the importance of additional precautions to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to Dr Vaca- Cartagena.[10]  However, it does appear for the time being that vaccine boosters provide protection to cancer patients. The meta-analysis did not include data on seroconversion rates in cancer patients after a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.[11] Since the researchers conducted the meta-analysis, studies have come out suggesting that additional vaccine doses may benefit patients with cancer.[12],[13]

Viral resistance can drive enhanced infectiousness of SARS-CoV-2, which in turn may ultimately enable SARS-CoV-2 to utilize alternative cell surface determinants to enter permissive cells. It is plausible that mass vaccination may drive the virus to fully exploit its evolutionary capacity, including its ability to use alternate receptor domains other than the Spike protein. This can lead to enhanced pathogenicity.[14] This is not an anti-vax statement, but rather an insight into the importance of supporting our innate healing capacity.

Viruses continually mutate, and by relying solely on vaccines, we are engaging in a never-ending race to stay ahead of the mutations. Supporting our overall health and innate immune response capacity is not variant specific and is a prudent approach to Covid-19, particularly as it becomes more apparent that there will never be a “post-Covid” world. We need to understand and accept that Covid-19 is here to stay. We need strategies beyond vaccines alone for living with this virus, starting with building our own robust health and immunity and reducing known risk factors where possible.

There are volumes of existing irrefutable evidence that foods, herbs and specific nutrients possess potential antiviral immune enhancing ability against SARS-CoV-2. According to recent research, herbal medicines, like herbs and essential oils, may have a part to play in counteracting Covid-19.[15] As we head into the 3rd year of living with Covid-19, there is no doubt in my mind we would be in a very different situation today if we had embraced dietary, herbal, and nutritional medicine for supportive care during the past two years, but it’s not too late to start. In my next blog, I’ll be sharing all the wonderful antiviral properties of some of my favorite essential oils.


[1] Sivan Gazit, Roei Shlezinger, Galit Perez, Roni Lotan, Asaf Peretz, Amir Ben-Tov, Dani Cohen, Khitam Muhsen, Gabriel Chodick, Tal Patalon, Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections

doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415

[2] Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Among Adults Hospitalized with COVID-19–Like Illness with Infection-Induced or mRNA Vaccine-Induced SARS-CoV-2 Immunity — Nine States, January–September 2021, Weekly / November 5, 2021 / 70(44);1539–1544, On October 29, 2021, this report was posted online as an MMWR Early Release.https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7044e1.htm

[3] A Review and Autopsy of Two COVID Immunity Studies BY MARTIN KULLDORFF   NOVEMBER 2, 2021, https://brownstone.org/articles/a-review-and-autopsy-of-two-covid-immunity-studies/

[4] Yair Goldberg, Micha Mandel, Yinon M. Bar-On, Omri Bodenheimer, Laurence Freedman, Nachman Ash, Sharon Alroy-Preis, Amit Huppert, Ron Milo, Protection and waning of natural and hybrid COVID-19 immunity, MedRxiv, BMJJ Yale, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.04.21267114

[5] Kristina Fiore, Early Lab Data Provide Glimpse Into Omicron’s Immune Escape, MedPage Today December 8, 2021, https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/96069?xid=nl_covidupdate_2021-12-08&eun=g1065123d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyUpdate_120821&utm_term=NL_Gen_Int_Daily_News_Update_active

[6] Vaughan, Adam, Omicron emerges, 4 December 2021 | New Scientist | 7, Mutations could have accumulated in a chronically infected patient, an overlooked human population, or an animal reservoir

[7] KUPFERSCHMIDT, KAI, Where did ‘weird’ Omicron come from?, December 4th, 2021, A version of this story appeared in Science, Vol 374, Issue 6572., https://www.science.org/content/article/where-did-weird-omicron-come

[8] Becerril-Gaitan A, Vaca-Cartagena BF, Ferrigno AS, et al. Immunogenicity and risk of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection after Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination in patients with cancer: A systematic review and meta- analysis. Eur J Cancer. 2021;S0959-8049. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2021.10.014

[9] Re D, Seitz-Polski B, Carles M, et al. Humoral and cellular responses after a third dose of BNT162b2 vaccine in patients treated for lymphoid malignancies. medRxiv. Published online July 22, 2021. doi:https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.18.21260669

[10] Storrs, Carina, PhD December 7, 2021, Cancer Patients May Have Double the Risk of Breakthrough Infection After COVID-19 Vaccination, Cancer Therapy Advisor, https://www.cancertherapyadvisor.com/home/cancer-topics/general-oncology/cancer-patients-double-risk-covid19-breakthrough-infection/?mpweb=1323-165465-6575524

[11] COVID-19 vaccines for moderately to severely immunocompromised people. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated November 23, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html   

[12] Shroff RT, Chalasani P, Wei R, et al. Immune responses to two and three doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in adults with solid tumorsNat Med. 2021;27(11):2002-2011. doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01542-z

[13] Shapiro LC, Thakkar A, Campbell ST, et al. Efficacy of booster doses in augmenting waning immune responses to COVID-19 vaccine in patients with cancerCancer Cell. 2021;S1535-6108(21)00606-1. doi:10.1016/j.ccell.2021.11.006

[14] Read AF, Baigent SJ, Powers C, Kgosana LB, Blackwell L, Smith LP, Kennedy DA, Walkden-Brown SW, Nair VK. Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens. PLoS Biol. 2015 Jul 27;13(7):e1002198. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002198. PMID: 26214839; PMCID: PMC4516275.

[15] Vellingiri B., Jayaramayya K., Iyer M., Narayanasamy A., Govindasamy V., Giridharan B., Rajagopalan K. COVID-19: A promising cure for the global panic. Sci. Total. Environ. 2020:138277. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138277.

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Updates on Ivermectin, Transmission, Natural Immunity and Herbal Medicine

The Covid-19 pandemic has now been with us for close to two years and shows no signs of ever being completely extinguished. Many epidemiologists believe that the virus is here to stay, in the same way that the seasonal flu and common cold are also part of our lives. My belief is that continuing attempts to eradicate the virus through vaccination are not the best way to deal with an ever-changing target. Viruses continually mutate, and I believe our best approach to staying healthy is to bolster our innate immunity, and when necessary, to employ treatments with minimal side effects.

Recent Paper on Ivermectin Ignores Positive Studies

I believe that Ivermectin has been maligned and misunderstood as a prophylactic and treatment for Covid-19. On October 29th 2021, Medscape published a paper titled “Re-Analysis, Ivermectin Benefits Disappeared as Trial Quality Increased.

This what the paper reports:

For the re-analysis, Andrew Hill, PhD, of the University of Liverpool in England, and colleagues included 12 studies with 2,628 participants, and assessed them for bias. Overall, four studies had a low risk for bias, four studies had moderate risk, three studies were at high risk for bias, and one was potentially fraudulent.

Taken at face value, the overall meta-analysis found a 51% increase in survival with ivermectin (P=0.01), but excluding the potentially fraudulent trial, ivermectin’s benefit fell to 38% and was of borderline significance (P=0.05), they reported.

Taking out the studies with a high risk of bias led to a further drop — down to a nonsignificant 10% increase in survival (P=0.66), they noted. Further removing studies with a moderate risk of bias took the benefit down to 4% (P=0.9).”[1],[2]

The bottom line is that they took 4 studies out of a total of 12, where ivermectin had the least impact, and said they were the ones without bias. Yet they give no details as to how they came to this conclusion. They also added two studies on remdesivir, with a total of 6 studies that actually referred to ivermectin, and again ignored the now close to 100 studies on ivermectin and Covid. 

My two recent papers, “Ivermectin and COVID-19 – Revision”[3] and “Ivermectin as a Prophylactic and Treatment for COVID-19”[4] highlight almost 40 studies, all of which show benefit. Why were none of these studies included?

Vaccines Have Little Effect against Delta Variant Transmission

Based on six new studies, people that are vaccinated appear to shed and spread Covid-19 Delta as much, or possibly even more, than the unvaccinated. 

Study 1: This study found comparable viral loads among vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated healthcare workers (HCWs) infected by variant Delta B.1.1.7, suggesting suboptimal protection of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines against new variants as compared to wild-type SARS-CoV-2.

Among all 55 PCR-positive HCWs, 24 (44%) had received at least one dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine, and 21 were fully vaccinated (diagnosed with COVID- 19>2 weeks after the second dose). The three individuals that had one dose had received it 11, 20 and 22 days before the positive PCR result. In 23 of 24 positive HCW, PCR showed the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant, in one single subject the B.1.177 variant. Up till May 12, only 2 HCWs required hospitalization, both of which were not vaccinated. Vaccinated (with at least one dose) HCWs did not differ significantly compared to non-vaccinated HCWs in regard to age, gender and epidemiological exposures.[5]

Study 2: This recent study (D. W. Eyre et al. preprint at medRxiv; 2021)[6] looked directly at how well vaccines prevent the spread of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.  It showed that people infected with Delta are less likely to pass on the virus if they have already had a COVID-19 vaccine than if they haven’t.  However the protective effect of the vaccine is small, and dwindles alarmingly over time.

In this study, researchers analyzed testing data from 139,164 close contacts of 95,716 people infected with SARS-CoV-2 between January and August 2021 in the United Kingdom, when the Alpha and Delta variants were competing for dominance. Although vaccines did offer some protection against infection and transmission, Delta dampened that effect. A vaccinated person who had a ‘breakthrough’ Delta infection was almost twice as likely to pass on the virus as was someone who was infected with Alpha. And the vaccines effect on Delta transmission waned to almost negligible levels over time.

The results “possibly explain why we’ve seen so much onward transmission of Delta despite widespread vaccination,” says co-author David Eyre, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, UK.[7]

Study 3: Data released August 6th, 2021, by the CDC showed that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant can carry detectable viral loads similar to those of people who are unvaccinated. The study stated, “Among five COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized, four were fully vaccinated; no deaths were reported. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) cycle threshold (Ct) values in specimens from 127 vaccinated persons with breakthrough cases were similar to those from 84 persons who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median = 22.77 and 21.54, respectively).”[8]

Study 4: Ireland’s Waterford city district has emerged as the place with the highest rate of Covid-19 infection, despite the fact that it has the highest rate of vaccination in the Republic. The city’s south electoral area has a 14-day incidence rate of 1,486 cases per 100,000 of the population, three times the national average which stands at 493 infections per 100,000 people. Waterford has 99.7 per cent of its adult population fully vaccinated.[9]

Study 5: Singapore, with 82% of its population of 5.7 million fully vaccinated, was once believed to have passed the threshold for herd immunity. But it’s now seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases. In the month of October, Singapore reported record high cases since late September, with more than 2,900 new infections on Oct. 1.

Prior to this wave, the highest single-day total was 1,426 reported in April 2020.[10]

Study 6: A new study, which appears in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Trusted Source,[11] has found that vaccination alone is not enough to stop the household transmission of the Delta variant.

What we have learned so far is thatthe peak viral load of the Delta virus does not differ between fully vaccinated and nonvaccinated individuals. Also, the elimination of the Delta strain of the virus takes place more quickly in vaccinated individuals.

Natural Immunity and Covid-19 Update

While a much-publicized CDC report concluded that mRNA vaccination provides stronger protection against COVID-19 hospitalization than prior infection, there were several study limitations, including that it was not a randomized controlled trial and that the follow-up period was short. The findings also don’t negate the robust protection from prior infection which many studies have now confirmed. In fact, in a recent CDC science report[12] that reviews the totality of evidence, agency staff found that infection-induced immunity is durable for at least 6 months.

“Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Health System conducted a study of 52,238 employees with and without a history of COVID-19, with or without vaccination. They found that those who recovered from COVID-19 and were vaccinated had equally low rates of repeat infection when compared with those who recovered and were unvaccinated. The investigators concluded that those previously infected were unlikely to benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.[13] In another study looking at the duration of immunity among the COVID-19-recovered, researchers found that the immune response against SARS-CoV-2 was persistent and relatively stable for at least a year.”[14]

Multiple studies also show that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are at least equally protected compared to fully vaccinated COVID-naive people.[15] This recent meta-analysis included nine clinical studies, including three randomized controlled studies, four retrospective observational cohorts, one prospective observational cohort, and a case-control study.

A new study, published in the November 2021 issue of the prestigious Lancet Journal, highlights protective immunity after recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection. According to the review, an overwhelming amount of research confirms those who have natural immunity are well protected. Several studies have found that people who recovered from COVID-19 and tested seropositive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies have low rates of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection. This study puts to rest the questions surrounding the strength and duration of such protection compared with that from vaccination.

Within this review paper, studies published in PubMed to September 28, 2021 were analyzed, including well-conducted biological studies showing protective immunity after infection. Furthermore, multiple epidemiological and clinical studies, including studies during the recent period of predominantly delta (B.1.617.2) variant transmission, found that the risk of repeat SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased by 80.5–100% among those who previously had COVID-19.

The reported studies were large and conducted throughout the world. Another laboratory-based study that analyzed the test results of 9,119 people with previous COVID-19 from December 1, 2019 to November 13, 2020 found that only 0.7% became reinfected.[16]

Here is a breakdown of the research studies they reviewed:

Biological studies

  • Dan et al (2021): About 95% of participants tested retained immune memory at about 6 months after having COVID-19; more than 90% of participants had CD4+ T-cell memory at 1 month and 6–8 months after having COVID-19.[17]
  • Wang et al (2021): Participants with a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection with an ancestral variant produce antibodies that cross-neutralize emerging variants of concern with high potency.[18]

Epidemiological studies

  • Hansen et al (2021): In a population-level observational study, people who previously had COVID-19 were around 80·5% protected against reinfection.[19]
  • Pilz et al (2021): In a retrospective observational study using national Austrian SARS-CoV-2 infection data, people who previously had COVID-19 were around 91% protected against reinfection.[20]
  • Sheehan et al (2021): In a retrospective cohort study in the USA, people who previously had COVID-19 were 81·8% protected against reinfection.[21]
  • Shrestha et al (2021): in a retrospective cohort study in the USA, people who previously had COVID-19 were 100% protected against reinfection.[22]
  • Gazit et al (2021): In a retrospective observational study in Israel, SARS-CoV-2-naive vaccinees had a 13.06-times increased risk for breakthrough infection with the delta (B.1.617.2) variant compared with those who previously had COVID-19; evidence of waning natural immunity was also shown.[23]
  • Kojima et al (2021): in a retrospective observational cohort of laboratory staff routinely screened for SARS-CoV-2, people who previously had COVID-19 were 100% protected against reinfection.[24]

Clinical studies:

  • Hall et al (2021): in a large, multicenter, prospective cohort study, having had COVID-19 previously was associated with an 84% decreased risk of infection.[25]
  • Letizia et al (2021): in a prospective cohort of US Marines, seropositive young adults were 82% protected against reinfection.[26]

Potential Treatment of COVID-19 with Traditional Chinese (Herbal) Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has shown success in treating viral infectious pneumonia. It has also exhibited therapeutic effects against infectious diseases, such as SARS and COVID-19. On February 7, 2020, the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine recommended the Qingfei Paidu decoction, the Huashi Baidu formula, the Xuanfei Baidu decoction, the Jinhua Qinggan granule, the Lianhua Qingwen capsule/granule, and Xuebijing.

The experimental antivirus effects are mainly characterized by the direct inhibition of virus replication. Regarding the immune system destruction, inflammatory cytokine storm, and lung damage caused by COVID-19, some classic TCM formulas and proprietary Chinese medicines may regulate the immune system, reduce inflammatory responses, and suppress lung fibrosis and injury. Xuebijing, for example, has been found to have clinical efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 for the treatment of flu-like symptoms, asthma, inflammation, tonsillitis, and sore throat.

Based on clinical results, TCM formulas have been applied to treat COVID-19, and their effects have been remarkable. Experimental studies have focused on the potential antiviral effects of classical formulas. For example, the Huashi Baidu formula has been recommended by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with mild and severe symptoms. Cai et al. identified 223 active ingredients in Huashi Baidu formula that potentially interact with 84 COVID-19-related target genes, such as ACE2, estrogen receptor 1, adrenergic receptor α1, and histone deacetylase 1.[27]

One of the many advantages of TCM and herbal medicine lies not only in its regulation of immunity, but also in its holistic regulation of metabolism and the intestinal environment and broad protective effects as well on organ systems.[28]

Indonesia First to Greenlight Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Biotechnology company Novavax said Monday that Indonesia has given the world’s first emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine, which uses a different technology than current shots. The vaccine is easier to store and transport than some other shots, which could allow it to play an important role in boosting supplies in poorer countries around the world.

Novavax said it has already filed for authorization of the vaccine in the United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia, India, and the Philippines.[29]

Also keep in mind, some people are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG), an ingredient in the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccines. There’s no polyethylene glycol (PEG) in Novavax

How the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Works

Unlike the mRNA and vector vaccines, this is a protein adjuvant (an adjuvant is an ingredient used to strengthen the immune response and in this case it a plant saponin extract, called Matrix M, from the Soapbark tree).

While other vaccines trick the body’s cells into creating parts of the virus that can trigger the immune system, the Novavax vaccine takes a different approach. It contains the spike protein, made from a moth and not the RNA messenger. 

Unlike mRNA vaccines that command your own cells to manufacture the antigens that trigger an immune response, the Novavax vaccine contains the antigens themselves.  The lab-grown nanoparticle spike protein mimics the natural spike protein on the surface of the coronavirus cannot cause disease.

How did they get the spike protein?

The Novavax method uses moth cells to make spike proteins: 

  1. Researchers select the desired genes that create certain SARS-CoV-2 antigens (spike protein). 
  2. Researchers put the genes into a baculovirus, an insect virus.
  3. The baculovirus infects moth cells and replicates inside them.
  4. These moth cells create lots of spike proteins.
  5. Researchers extract and purify the spike proteins.

The Novavax vaccine has no genetic material, only proteins.

When the vaccine is injected, the Matrix-M Soapbark extract stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies and T-cell immune responses.

This tried-and-true method of making a custom copy of a virus spike protein has been used to develop vaccines against HPV, hepatitis B and influenza.[30]

So, there you have it.

References


[1] https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/95333?xid=nl_medpageexclusive_2021-11-01&eun=g1065123d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MPTExclusives_110121&utm_term=NL_Gen_Int_Medpage_Exclusives_Active

[2] Hill A, et al “Ivermectin for COVID-19: addressing potential bias and medical fraud” Research Square 2021; DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-1003006/v1.

[3] https://www.donnieyance.com/ivermectin-and-covid-19-revision/

[4] https://www.donnieyance.com/ivermectin-as-a-prophylactic-and-treatment-for-covid-19/

[5] Petros Ioannoua , Stamatis Karakonstantisa , Eirini Astrinakib, Stamatina Saplamidoub,

Efsevia Vitsaxakib, Georgios Hamilosc, George Sourvinosd and Diamantis P. Kofteridisa, Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 among vaccinated health care workers, INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 2021; VOL. 0, NO. 0, 1–4, https://doi.org/10.1080/23744235.2021.1945139

[6] David W Eyre, Donald Taylor, Mark Purver, David Chapman, Tom Fowler, Koen B Pouwels, A Sarah Walker, Tim EA Peto. The impact of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination on Alpha & Delta variant transmission, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.28.21264260

[7] Nature, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02759-1?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20211014&utm_source=nature_etoc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20211014&sap-outbound-id=C45F96E14F855E90076BC7A0A2589E9DC8299B74, 10/13/2021

[8] Brown CM, Vostok J, Johnson H, Burns M, Gharpure R, Sami S, Sabo RT, Hall N, Foreman A, Schubert PL, Gallagher GR, Fink T, Madoff LC, Gabriel SB, MacInnis B, Park DJ, Siddle KJ, Harik V, Arvidson D, Brock-Fisher T, Dunn M, Kearns A, Laney AS. Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings – Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Aug 6;70(31):1059-1062. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7031e2.

[9] https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/waterford-city-district-has-state-s-highest-rate-of-covid-19-infections-1.4707344, The Irish Times, October 21, 2021

[10] https://qz.com/india/2068834/highly-vaccinated-singapore-sees-rising-covid-cases/, Kapur, Manavi, Oct. 5th, 2021

[11] Anika Singanayagam, Seran Hakki, Jake Dunning, Kieran J Madon, Michael A Crone, Aleksandra Koycheva, Nieves Derqui-Fernandez, Jack L Barnett, Michael G Whitfield, Robert Varro, Andre Charlett,Rhia Kundu, Joe Fenn, Jessica Cutajar,Valerie Quinn, Emily Conibear, Wendy Barclay, Paul S Freemont, Graham P Taylor, Shazaad Ahmad, Maria Zambon, Neil M Ferguson, Ajit Lalvani, on behalf of the ATACCC Study Investigators, Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study; The Lancet Infectious Diseases Trusted Source, Published on line: October 29, 2021 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00648-4

[12] Bozio CH, et al “Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 among adults hospitalized with COVID-19–like illness with infection-induced or mRNA vaccine-induced SARS-CoV-2 immunity — nine States, January–September 2021” MMWR 2021; DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7044e1.

[13] Nabin K. Shrestha, Patrick C. Burke, Amy S. Nowacki, Paul Terpeluk, Steven M. Gordon Necessity of COVID-19 vaccination in previously infected individuals, https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.01.21258176

[14] https://www.medpagetoday.com/opinion/second-opinions/95399, Medscape, Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD, MPH, and Noah Kojima, MD November 2, 2021, COVID Vaccine Mandates and the Question of Medical Necessity,

[15] Mahesh B. Shenai, Ralph Rahme, Hooman Noorchashm Equivalency of Protection from Natural Immunity in COVID-19 Recovered Versus Fully Vaccinated Persons: A Systematic Review and Pooled Analysis doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.12.21263461

[16] Noah Kojima, Jeffrey D Klausner, Protective immunity after recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2021, ISSN 1473-3099, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00676-9. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1473309921006769)

[17] M Dan, J Mateus, Y Kato, et al. Immunological memory to SARS-CoV-2 assessed for up to 8 months after infection Science, 371 (2021), Article eabf4063

[18] L Wang, T Zhou, Y Zhang, et al. Ultrapotent antibodies against diverse and highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants, Science, 373 (2021), Article eabh1766

[19] CH Hansen, D Michlmayr, SM Gubbels, K Mølbak, S Ethelberg, Assessment of protection against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 among 4 million PCR-tested individuals in Denmark in 2020: a population-level observational study, Lancet, 397 (2021), pp. 1204-1212

[20] S Pilz, A Chakeri, JP Ioannidis, et al. SARS-CoV-2 re-infection risk in Austria

Eur J Clin Invest, 51 (2021), Article e13520

[21] MM Sheehan, AJ Reddy, MB Rothberg, Reinfection rates among patients who previously tested positive for COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study, Clin Infect Dis (2021), published online March 15. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciab234

[22] N Kojima, A Roshani, M Brobeck, A Baca, JD Klausner, Incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection among previously infected or vaccinated employees

medRxiv (2021), published online July 8. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.03.2125997

[23] S Gazit, R Shlezinger, G Perez, et al. Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections, medRxiv (2021) published online Aug 25. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415

[24] N Kojima, A Roshani, M Brobeck, A Baca, JD Klausner, Incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection among previously infected or vaccinated employees

medRxiv (2021), published online July 8. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.03.21259976

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