COVID-19 Update for May 5th
About the author: Stephen Cherniske was an adjunct instructor at UCLA (Clinical Nutrition) and directed the nation’s first FDA-licensed clinical lab specializing in nutrition and Immunology.
I promised some good news today, and there are two items to celebrate.
1. The first modifiable risk factor analysis has been published.
Background: The COVID-19 disease course is strikingly divergent. Approximately 80-85% of patients experience mild or no symptoms, while the remainder develop severe disease. While the major determinant is clearly age, there must be other factors – perhaps related to age – which influence disease severity. Since a vaccine is nowhere on the horizon, and no reliable treatment is currently available, identifying modifiable risk factors is the ONLY mechanism by which we can reduce the pain, suffering and death associated with this pandemic.
In early March, Natalie and I listed the following as modifiable risk factors:
Low muscle mass
2. Low DHEA
3. Low Vitamin D
4. Zinc deficiency
Clearly, Low DHEA, low Vitamin D and zinc deficiency can be quickly and easily addressed. And yesterday, two papers were published showing that blood levels of vitamin D are strongly associated with disease severity.   Importantly, both research groups emphasized that low Vitamin D (not just frank deficiency) was associated with worse symptoms, ICU treatment and higher mortality. Low vitamin D, called Vitamin D insufficiency or VDI, was found in 85% of ICU patients. In fact, 100% of ICU patients less than 75 years old had insufficient vitamin D.
ACTION STEPS: Since the absorption of Vitamin D from an oral dose is affected by a wide number of variables, we recommend supplementing with 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 Monday through Friday. Then, the next time you are scheduled for any blood test, inform your doctor that you want 25-hydroxy vitamin D to be included. Research suggests that the optimum range is 45 to 95 ng/mL.
The second good news is that researchers have created a monoclonal antibody that – in a cell culture – inactivates the COVID-19 virus.
Background: The two main branches of our immune system are INNATE immunity – carried out by T cells which target any molecule identified as a potential threat. ACQUIRED immunity relies on antibodies produced mainly by B cells. These target specific disease-causing organisms (pathogens), and retain that memory to produce a more rapid immune response should you be exposed again. Right now, a treatment known as convalescent plasma therapy collects antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19, and injects these into people who are gravely ill with the infection.
A monoclonal antibody is a synthetic protein designed to interfere with a pathogen’s ability to proliferate. Some have been used to create cancer “vaccines” while others target the aberrant cells that cause autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Now, researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands have developed a monoclonal antibody that targets the mechanism by which the Coronavirus attaches to a cell and gains entry, known as the spike protein.  If this proves successful in an animal model, human clinical trials could begin as soon as this fall. The advantage of a monoclonal antibody over convalescent plasma therapy is the scale-up potential. Once safety and efficacy are established, hundreds of billions of antibodies could be produced in a matter of weeks, using production equipment that already exists.
Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent in Severe COVID-19
Frank H. Lau, et al.
Full text available at:
 Nutrients. 2020 Apr 2;12(4). pii: E988. doi: 10.3390/nu12040988.
Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths.
Grant WB, et al.
Full Text available at:
 Nature Communications
Published: 04 May 2020
A human monoclonal antibody blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection
11, Article number: 2251 (2020)
Full Text available at: