Covid-19 had us all fooled, but now we might have finally found its secret.
In the last 3-5 days, a mountain of anecdotal evidence has come out of NYC, Italy, Spain, etc. about COVID-19 and characteristics of patients who get seriously ill. It's not only piling up but now leading to a general field-level consensus backed up by a few previously little-known studies that we've had it all wrong the whole time. Well, a few had some things eerily correct (cough Trump cough), especially with Hydroxychloroquine with Azithromicin, but we'll get to that in a minute.
There is no 'pneumonia' nor ARDS. At least not the ARDS with established treatment protocols and procedures we're familiar with. Ventilators are not only the wrong solution, but high pressure intubation can actually wind up causing more damage than without, not to mention complications from tracheal scarring and ulcers given the duration of intubation often required… They may still have a use in the immediate future for patients too far to bring back with this newfound knowledge, but moving forward a new treatment protocol needs to be established so we stop treating patients for the wrong disease.
The past 48 hours or so have seen a huge revelation: COVID-19 causes prolonged and progressive hypoxia (starving your body of oxygen) by binding to the heme groups in hemoglobin in your red blood cells. People are simply desaturating (losing o2 in their blood), and that's what eventually leads to organ failures that kill them, not any form of ARDS or pneumonia. All the damage to the lungs you see in CT scans are from the release of oxidative iron from the hemes, this overwhelms the natural defenses against pulmonary oxidative stress and causes that nice, always-bilateral ground glass opacity in the lungs. Patients returning for re-hospitalization days or weeks after recovery suffering from apparent delayed post-hypoxic leukoencephalopathy strengthen the notion COVID-19 patients are suffering from hypoxia despite no signs of respiratory 'tire out' or fatigue.
Here's the breakdown of the whole process, including some ELI5-level cliff notes. Much has been simplified just to keep it digestible and layman-friendly.
Your red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all your organs and the rest of your body. Red blood cells can do this thanks to hemoglobin, which is a protein consisting of four "hemes". Hemes have a special kind of iron ion, which is normally quite toxic in itPost too long. Click here to view the full text.