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The goal of Operation Warp Speed is to make 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures).
This blog attempts to discuss one therapeutic approach in an objective manner.
We recognize that this protocol is not yet approved as a treatment for COVID-19. Nevertheless, we anticipate it is incorporated as one of the therapeutic alternatives to managing early-stage COVID-19 cases.
Some vaccines can prove to be elusive.
The United States became aware of AIDS back in the early 1980s. Yet, to date, no country or company has successfully developed a vaccine for the HIV/AIDS virus.
For years AIDS has been managed effectively in many people like Magic Johnson, Charlie Sheen, and others using a therapeutic approach.
One alternative method of successfully managing COVID-19 today may be a relatively low-cost therapeutic approach.
We may need to manage COVID-19 with therapeutics. COVID-19 may not be a death sentence. The Zelenko protocol, and others similar to it, delivered properly upon the early diagnosis of the virus, may have merit.
We have reason to believe, Operation Warp Speed may be taking therapeutics more seriously than many recognize.
While Americans and the world at large come to grips with the increasing social and political turmoil of 2020, it’s easy to forget that we are still in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed in excess of 50 million people.
The concerning spike in the prevalence of COVID-19 cases — which shows no evidence of slowing anytime in the near future — means that you and your family cannot afford to become complacent in terms of equipping your immune systems with the tools they need to fight off novel infections.
The primary driver of COVID-19’s rapid spread throughout the global population is its remarkable potential for transmission from person to person paired with a complete lack of pre-existing immunity. The virus can easily jump to a new host through the breath, a feature that renders it “airborne,” making any public area a ripe breeding ground for the virus – hence the near-total social-distancing shutdown implemented by governments across the world.
Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of proven (and affordable) methods for achieving a substantial boost to your immune system’s capacity to effectively fight the COVID-19 virus when you inevitably encounter it.
With adherence to the appropriate protocols that we will discuss here, you will put yourself and your loved ones in the best position to defeat the COVID-19 virus before it becomes lethal.
First, let’s explore the duality of the human immune system and its implications for battling emergent pathogenic threats like COVID-19.
Biologically, the immune system is divided into two components with divergent functions: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.
The innate immune system functions as the body’s first line of defense. When an organism encounters an unfamiliar pathogen (virus, bacteria, fungus, or other) that it has no previous experience facing, the immune system is in a uniquely challenging situation because it has not had the opportunity to synthesize antibodies that attach to and “tag” the virus, marking it for destruction.
In the intervening hours or days from the introduction of a new pathogen to the time that appropriate antibodies can be produced, the innate immune system must eliminate the threat without the help of the adaptive immune system.
The innate immune system is considered “non-specific” because its activities are geared toward the elimination of generalized pathogens. The inflammatory activity of the immune system in response to invading organisms offers a glimpse of the innate immune system in action.
The adaptive immune system, sometimes called the “acquired immune system,” is, as the name suggests, the component of the immune system responsible for targeting previously encountered pathogens for which antibodies have been produced.
The adaptive immune system is considered “specific” in the sense that it seeks and destroys known pathogens. The mechanism of vaccines – through which a controlled, inactive form of a virus is introduced via injection to stimulate antibody synthesis – is an example of the adaptive immune system in action.
Both innate and adaptive immunity are crucial for the maintenance of health. However, adaptive immunity as it relates to COVID-19 is limited to either a.) the development of natural immunity through antibody synthesis following exposure to the virus or b.) the eventual development, through clinical research, of a viable COVID-19 vaccine.
Unfortunately, vaccines generally take years to develop; just a few months into the pandemic, all the preliminary efforts among virologists to develop a vaccine against the emergent virus are currently still in the development or clinical testing phases. Furthermore, even once a vaccine is created, there is no guarantee of the safety or efficacy of any vaccine, especially ones that have been rushed through the arduous testing process.
Secondly, vaccines, like most patented pharmaceuticals, are often prohibitively expensive. If current trends portend the future, vaccine costs will only soar higher in the coming years.
Even during a pandemic, the profit motive reigns supreme among drug manufacturers. As a case in point, the pharmaceutical firm Gilead recently introduced an absurdly astronomical pricing plan for remdesivir — widely recognized as the first drug developed specifically for use as an anti-COVID therapy – that starts at more than $3,000 for a round of treatment.
In an era where most Americans can’t even muster $1,000 in an emergency, these conventional therapeutics are simply out of reach for the majority of average people.
Finally, vaccine manufacturers enjoy a level of immunity against legal responsibility that is rarely, if ever, extended to the natural health community – or to any other economic sector for that matter. Vaccine industry lobbyists have carved out a nice exemption for themselves in 42 U.S. Code § 300aa–22:
“No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.”
Translated from convoluted legalistic phrasing, this U.S. federal code — which applies across the board in every American state – exempts pharmaceutical drug manufacturers from any legal obligation to compensate victims of its vaccine formulations even when the evidence is conclusive that they damaged the patient’s health, often permanently.
For these reasons, your best bet for preparing against COVID-19 involves taking immediate, actionable steps to fortify your innate immune system naturally so that it responds quickly and efficiently when you or your loved ones encounter COVID-19.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the key potential drivers of innate immunity – your frontline defenses that, in the scenario of pathogenic infection, will serve as your lifeline.
Primary care physician Dr. Vladimir Zelenko has developed a treatment plan — aptly called the Zelenko Protocol – that has achieved stunning (although underreported) success in treating patients positive for COVID-19.
Other Related Hydroxychloroquinne Studies
These and more like these studies may be found on the James Todaro, MD website.
Therapeutics are evolving rapidly. There are political and regulatory motivations that may discourage or encourage these protocols. Always work with your doctor. This protocol would only be recommended within the first 5 days or so of receiving COVID-like symptoms.
The regimen calls for carefully titrated dosages of three drugs in high-risk patients over five days: hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and azithromycin (Z-pack).
Through his protocol, Dr. Zelenko has helped numerous COVID-19 patients stay off of ventilators by tamping down cytokine storms — common and dangerous immunological responses by COVID-19 patients to the infections (more on cytokine storms later).
We’ll explore the what the scientific literature says in support of each therapeutic medication’s use below.
Hydroxychloroquine, a drug initially designed for use as a prophylactic against malaria, has received enormous negative press due to the unfolding political crisis that has thus far characterized the American public health response to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, as we’ll explore below, the criticism of hydroxychloroquine may be unwarranted.
Hydroxychloroquine treats malaria by interfering with the enzyme activities of the parasite that it relies on to sustain itself and reproduce. Although the exact mechanism of action through which hydroxychloroquine fights COVID-19 remains to be discovered following more extensive research, the preliminary evidence shows enormous promise for the widespread application of the drug as another weapon in the COVID-fighting arsenal.
The much-hyped alleged dangers of hydroxychloroquine appear to be overblown – yet another casualty of the 24-hour news cycle.
First of all, hydroxychloroquine is not a new drug – it has been routinely administered to malaria patients as a standard course of treatment for over 50 years. Since its inception, hydroxychloroquine has been included on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) List of Essential Medicines – an odd juxtaposition against the organization’s politically-driven fervent warnings against the supposed threat of the decades-old medication.
While nearly all drugs present some risk of side effects (hydroxychloroquine is no exception), this drug has a widely-recognized safety profile for most patients.
Although hydroxychloroquine does carry certain risks for patients with poor cardiovascular health, the potential benefits in terms of mitigating the damage of COVID-19 might outweigh other concerns even for patients with heart conditions. For patients with good heart health, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence indicates that hydroxychloroquine is largely safe.
The safety profile of hydroxychloroquine for most patients has been so thoroughly vetted, in fact, that it is widely used as a prophylactic for the highly susceptible demographic of pregnant women with autoimmune disorders – again, with clinically significant efficacy.
The good news on the hydroxychloroquine front is that researchers from the US and UK are set to restart clinical testing of the potential efficacy of the drug to treat COVID-19. The news comes on the heels of an admission by the editing team at the medical journal Lancet that previous studies purporting to show the inefficacy of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 were not properly vetted.
Following the Zelenko Protocol as prescribed by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, COVID-19 patients should receive a prophylactic administration of 200 mg twice per day for 5 days upon initial observation of COVID-19-related symptoms.
Although some regimens call for higher therapeutic dosages of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic, Dr. Zelenko recommends a lower (200 mg x2 daily) dosage because the co-administration of zinc drastically potentiates the virus-thwarting activities of the two medications in vivo (more on how zinc and hydroxychloroquine work together below).
The titrated 200-mg dosage of hydroxychloroquine, as called for in the Zelenko Protocol, mitigates the potential cardiovascular risks posed by higher dosages of the drug for a small subset of patients.
Zinc, abbreviated as Zn in the periodic table, is a metal nutrient crucial to various aspects of human health, including optimal immune system function.
The mineral has historically been employed in the treatment of a number of ailments. In fact, researchers conducting a recent study of a 2,000+-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Italy discovered zinc pills in the cargo – rendering it documentation of the oldest known medicinal tablets ever to be uncovered by archaeological survey.
After iron, zinc is the second most abundant mineral in the human body; it is intricately involved in nearly every important physiological process. Unfortunately, as much as 12% of the general population and up to 40% of the vulnerable elderly population are deficient in this all-important mineral.
After exploring the plethora of evidence regarding zinc’s antiviral activities, we’ll discuss ways to naturally boost your zinc intake through diet and supplementation.
Of all the medical applications of zinc, its function as a natural antiviral therapy is the most well-studied. Zinc is believed to exert its antiviral properties by inhibiting virus reproduction, the mechanism by which viruses replicate and spread.
The clinical research on zinc and immunity is vast; it is arguably the single most well-documented natural method of virus suppression currently known to science. Zinc has demonstrated clinical efficacy in the treatment of the following viruses:
Owing to the wide range of viral infections that zinc is proven to help neutralize, extrapolating its potential to augment the treatment of COVID-19 patients is logical. In a recent examination of zinc’s activity on the COVID-19 virus, researchers conclusively proved that “Zn2+ directly inhibited the in vitro RdRp activity” of COVID-19 – effectively issuing a death sentence for the virus.
Fortunately, zinc has achieved mainstream recognition for its antiviral potential in ways that other simple and cost-effective antiviral treatments have not. If you visit your local CVS or Walgreen’s during the peak flu season months, you’ll likely notice zinc supplements advertised front and center.
In addition to studying zinc and hydroxychloroquine separately as individual monotherapies for fighting COVID-19, researchers are increasingly interested in the ways that hydroxychloroquine enhances the antiviral capacity of zinc by directing greater concentrations of extracellular zinc into the cells where it can perform its work of interference with viral replication via hydroxychloroquine’s proven activity as a zinc lonophone.
Ideally, you should focus on maximizing zinc intake through your regular meals before moving on to supplementation. To optimize your dietary zinc, consider including the following zinc-loaded foods in your daily meal plan:
Patients and doctors utilizing zinc supplements long-term should be cognizant of the possibility of developing a zinc-induced copper deficiency due to the competition for uptake between the two metals.
However, because documented cases of zinc-induced copper deficiency generally occur following prolonged periods of supplementation, short-term prophylactic administration of zinc should not pose a threat to copper uptake.
In terms of therapeutic potential as an antiviral prophylactic, no vital nutrient, arguably, deserves a closer look in the age of COVID-19 more than Vitamin D. Recent research has shed an enormous amount of new light on the crucial role that Vitamin D plays in immunity – all the more important given shelter-in-place orders that severely restrict the opportunities that many people have to get outside and absorb sunlight.
Vitamin D is primarily sourced through exposure to the UV rays from the sun. However, patients can augment their Vitamin D intake with supplementation and the inclusion of more Vitamin D-rich foods like fish and dairy.
A whopping 75% of all Americans have diagnosable Vitamin D deficiencies. The statistics are even more devastating for older populations (the most at-risk group for contracting fatal COVID-19 infections) in residential care facilities or nursing homes who do not get outside often enough as well as for demographics with darker skin tones (more on skin tone and Vitamin D later).
Drawing on data from 780 confirmed COVID cases, the researchers controlled for age, sex, and comorbidity factors such as obesity and diabetes to isolate Vitamin D levels as a direct corollary to a patient’s chances of making a full recovery.
Because the majority of our Vitamin D is sourced through sunlight exposure, darker-skinned people, such as those of African heritage, are more susceptible to Vitamin D deficiencies, known medically as hypovitaminosis D.
The chart was assembled by researchers studying the link between darker skin tone and Vitamin D deficiency.
The data indicates notably lower Vitamin D levels in the darker-skinned women in the study compared to lighter-skinned subjects – especially during the winter months when the threat of viral infection is greatest.
This means that people with darker skin tones should take extra precaution to elevate their Vitamin D levels as part of a comprehensive prophylactic strategy to counter COVID-19 infections.
As we mentioned previously, most Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin. Therefore, enhancing your levels through outdoor activity – especially during the winter months when we tend to go outside less and the days are shorter – is a surefire way to improve blood concentrations if you have a deficiency.
You can also source Vitamin D through your diet. The best dietary sources of Vitamin D are:
Lastly, you have the option to reach for a high-quality Vitamin D supplement. Most health food chains and even major grocery stores carry a selection of Vitamin D supplements.
The optimal Vitamin D supplementation should be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on an individual’s native levels as well as the reason for supplementation.
According to the researchers in one study on supplementary Vitamin D from the medical journal Pharmacotherapy, “In patients with documented Vitamin D deficiency, a cumulative dose of at least 600,000 IU administered over several weeks appears to be necessary to replenish Vitamin D stores.”
Once levels have been optimized, a maintenance dose of 2,000 IUs (international units) per day is adequate for most patients.
Z-pack, known pharmacologically as “azithromycin,” is a popular antibiotic drug to treat malaria and other bacterial infections such as common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It is a common item for travelers to carry as they visit third world destinations known to contain malaria and other diseases.
As is the case with hydroxychloroquine, Z-pack is on the WHO’s List of Essential Medicines, meaning that its safety and efficacy have clinical backing.
Z-pack has garnered substantial interest from research groups around the world for its potential role in treating COVID-19 patients.
Z-pack may modulate the immune system’s response to COVID-19 infections by mitigating the “cytokine storm” inflammatory response to unrecognized pathogens.
While a controlled amount of inflammation is an indispensable component of immune system function, “runaway” inflammation that characterizes cytokine storms can be devastating to health and even fatal.
The term “cytokine” refers broadly to a class of proteins that carry out a number of important signaling activities across multiple systems. The specific types of cytokines involved in so-called cytokine storms are called interferons (IFNs), chemokines, colony-stimulating factor (CSF), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukins.
The inflammatory response of cytokines is a balancing act between pro-inflammatory cytokines and cytokines that inhibit and control inflammation.
During a cytokine storm, the pro-inflammatory cytokines essentially “run amok” as the delicate balance between pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines is disrupted, triggering a host of symptoms like pain, swelling, high temperature, and, ultimately, the possibility of severe organ damage.
As a member of the antibiotic class of drugs called “macrolides”, Z-pack therapy has the potential to exert a system-wide anti-inflammatory effect in patients positive for COVID-19 who are battling the serious and often fatal inflammation characteristic of cytokine storms.
Many COVID-19 patients unfortunately experience acute lung injury (ALI) due to cytokine storms affecting the lungs. Of those affected, a startling number experience a permanent loss of lung function due to the development of fibrosis in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary fibrosis. Others die.
Due to the emergent nature of COVID-19, data on Z-packs’ direct effectiveness for treating cytokine storms related to the virus is insufficient at the present time to definitively declare it a viable treatment. Nonetheless, Z-packs are often a treatment of last resort when other attempts to control the inflammatory response fails.
For adult patients, the Z-pack label calls for a starting dose of 500 mg, then 250 mg daily for days 2-5 of treatment to treat acute infections. For children, the dose should be titrated by body weight, with a recommended maximum starting dosage of 30 mg/kg as a one-time dose.
More research is needed to determine the optimal dose, if any, that providers should administer to COVID-19 patients when a cytokine storm threatens to derail their successful recovery following infection.
Aside from pharmaceutical interventions, optimizing dietary habits is the single greatest tool that a patient has to fortify his or her immune system.
The building blocks of the immune system, as with all biological features, are sourced through diet. Clinical research confirms that diet significantly impacts immune system function.
The so-called “gut biome” and immune system function are closely linked. Healthy, whole foods rich with a nutrient composition promote a healthy gut biome. As a consequence, immune function improves.
To enlist the maximum immune-boosting aid from your diet, include whole foods as often as possible while reducing intake of pre-packaged, processed foods that contain little nutritional value but are generally high in inflammatory ingredients that negatively alter immune function.
For people just setting out on their diet-optimizing journey, the Whole30© diet plan offers an easy-to-follow guide to replacing unhealthy meal options with healthier, whole-foods-based options.
In addition to changing what you eat, modifying when you eat is an equally important component of an immunity-boosting dietary protocol.
The term “intermittent fasting” refers to the regular practice of restricting caloric intake to zero or near-zero for a defined period of time followed by normal eating for another defined period of time.
For example, the most common type of intermittent fasting is called 16:8 in which practitioners eat nothing or virtually nothing for 16 hours, followed by 8 hours in which the participants eat freely. That means that, for most people, an eating window of roughly 12 pm to 8 pm daily followed by fasting from 8 pm until noon the next day fits the 16:8 protocol called for in many intermittent fasting plans.
Variations such as the 19:5 “Warrior Diet” with a five-hour feeding window and the 23:1 “one meal a day” (OMAD) plan offer flexibility.
Intermittent fasting confers many health benefits, including exerting a beneficial effect on the immune system through its cytokine-mediating effects and its positive influence on blood sugar and insulin resistance.
The simplest conceptualization of intermittent fasting, in its most basic form, is that it entails skipping breakfast to conform to the 16:8 fasting and feeding windows.
Many of us have received the unscientific piece of folk wisdom that eating a large breakfast is necessary for good health. Although conventional wisdom dictates the importance of breakfast, the emerging scientific literature indicates the opposite – skipping breakfast could be an enormous boon to your immune system as well as to your overall health.
Although there is no guarantee of immunity to the new and poorly understood COVID-19 virus, the protocols discussed here – hydroxychloroquine, zinc, Vitamin D, Z-pack, intermittent fasting, and caloric restriction – offer science-backed ways to dramatically improve your immune system’s innate capacity to fend off the COVID-19 virus when you encounter it in the world.
Even once a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, its safety and efficacy are sure to be highly questionable due to the rushed nature of the vetting process and the extreme financial incentives for the first pharmaceutical firm to introduce a vaccine to market.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While a growing number of patients around the world regrettably succumb to COVID-19-induced fatalities, a much higher proportion of those infected either experience limited symptoms or are completely asymptomatic and go on to achieve a full recovery.
By committing to the prophylactic interventions described here, you will markedly strengthen your immune system and exponentially improve your chances of belonging to the cohort that makes it through this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic unscathed.
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