an excerpt, stardate October 19, 2022.
Note: The series “Lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic” will be continued soon.
Started in February 2020, the SAJO blog is providing a thread through the pandemic with up-to-date information to present pandemics and infectious diseases.
Germany, first place, again! Germania, quo vadis?
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Nixus Minimax: Hello Sabine and Jörg! It is the fall of 2022, time for a detailed conversation regarding our “little friend”, the pandemic virus, that no one wants to contract.
Sabine & Jörg: Hello Nixus, again, we made it. Germany is world champion once again when it comes to the number of new infections: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
The statistically tallied infection numbers are in an exponential growth rate. This is a worrying situation, that makes us take notice and warn. The outcome of such an emergency is insecure, it also needs luck, especially for those afflicted by disease.
N. Minimax: According to the Johns Hopkins University, the weekly infection numbers for Germany have increased from around 200,000 in September to now more than 660,000. What do you make of it?
Sabine: Let’s dive into some details here right away. The dark figure of non-registered infections is a lot higher, by several times.
Nixus: Where does this increase in numbers come from?
Sabine: The root cause are the fairs and festivals, and any kind of mass events being held without anyone donning N95s. Later on it will be said, no-one had given a warning. In the third year of this pandemic this is ridiculous. However, we are missing current information and notifications in media and politics.
N. M.: Why do you keep coming back to the numbers of new infection? Are these relevant anymore?
Jörg: New infections are the foundation of every evaluation, since without new infections there’s no disease, without disease there is no flooding of ICUs and no long-covid.
Even with the currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant being less deadly it brings with it a lot of suffering; it is spread far and wide, sickening thousands of people for weeks. A certain percentage of the sick will die, and 10 % to 20 % will suffer from long covid. Nevertheless, in Germany there are numerous festivals with millions of visitors.
Sabine: Let’s call these “gifts”, since the ICUs are filling up quickly with COVID-19 victims. But the public is not taking notice. How can this be? Are we that hard-bitten that 80 to 100 unnecessary deaths per day do not move us? Does empathy only kick in once friends and family are affected? Are our journalists in a slumber, hindering them from reporting about this ongoing and dangerous situation? This might be provocative, but either the news is being censored or our journalism is worthless, only serving the yellow press.
Jörg: This is obvious with the so-called investigative journalism. Nowadays it is not being done by the press, but by comedians. In Germany, Jan Böhmermann is the only one uncovering a scandal here and there. This however is not our topic today.
N.M.: How can it be we got used to a state, that only two years ago brought a lot of fear and excitement, and taught people a lesson about disease and death?
Sabine & Jörg: It doesn’t stop there. In the Ukraine, each day people are dying in a hail of bullets, and in a couple of weeks also by freezing. Winter in the Ukraine is a lot harder than in Germany. But here in Germany, people seem to be completely indifferent to all those deaths. Here, we are agitated by the underwear of a second-class singer, or other trivial nonsense. Well, Germania – quo vadis?
N.M.: Back to our favorite topic. You haven’t been talking about long covid or post covid lately. What are the differences, exactly?
B&B: In short, there are almost none. The US centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) deal with them in parallel: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html
Symptoms are the same. In the US both names are used synonymously.
In Germany, there is a differentiation between long covid (up to 4 weeks after a bout with COVID-19) and post-covid (lasting more than 3 months). The symptoms are the same, it is merely semantics or rather the timeline. More important than semantics are the treatment options. This is where science and medicine are hitting a wall. In general, treatments are aimed at symptoms, only. Such treatments necessarily are individual. That’s pretty much all that can be done. After all, this disease is known now for three years only. But it is important to accept this disease as a physical ailment, not a mere psychological problem. Still, there are too many medics that just see this as a psychosomatic problem. Psychosomatic is a euphemism for weakness. The patient should simply pull him/herself together. Otherwise, you’ll be admitted to a psychiatric clinic. Not much has changed in the last 150 years. This needs to change.
N.M.: So, what you are saying is, it still is best to avoid the disease, to prevent infection. Is vaccination the key to a life as we had it before the pandemic?
Jörg: Of course, it is an individual decision. But we may say a few words about the vaccinations. The currently available vaccines are necessary and protective. Everyone eligible for vaccination should get a shot since vaccination prevents severe and deadly disease. It mildens the disease depending on the individual immune system. The vaccine does not protect from infection, and from spread of the virus to others.
Sabine: In order to get a sterilizing immunity (i.e., preventing infection altogether) a strong and long-lasting immunity would need to be attained in the mucosa. This is necessary for respiratory pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. Such a protection in the mucosa cannot be obtained right now. Another necessity would be immune protection in the upper respiratory tract and in the lung. This is difficult. Mucosal immune responses tend to be weaker and are of short duration. This might be a reason for the big global success of respiratory pathogens.
Regarding the immune status there are too few studies that observe the long-term protection level. Vaccination needs to elicit a strong and enduring T cell response, as well as the development of memory T cells.
Vaccination on its own is providing some protection, which is better than none, but, and this is our personal opinion, it would be important to study this in much more detail to define and improve the immune response.
This is why we prefer the idea to combine improved vaccines with new drugs built upon antiviral molecules. We at SAJO go even further and are working on protective molecules, providing a prophylaxis, not just therapy. Internally, we are calling this our “biological shield” – invisible, efficient, and simply ingenious.
Let us know if you want to have these new molecules. Point people able to finance such an endeavor to us. Such a development does not work without a robust financing. We are putting all our knowhow, our strength and energy, our spirit and our experience of 25 years in science, everything, into these new molecules.
SAJO – brilliant – comprehensive – protective – a true white hope – but only if you really want it!
Jörg: House advertising off 😊
N.M.: An interposed question: What do you mean by improved vaccines?
B&B: That is not easy to answer. It would go too far, too deep into immunology, virology, and molecular biology. We are offering our counseling to vaccine developers, since we think this is where knowhow is needed. This we had to say. Give us a call or write to us.
N.M.: So, the best protection as of yet is not to get infected in the first place?
Jörg: 10 % to 20 % of those infected will develop post-covid. Even this number is in question, there seems to be a high dark figure. A recent Science article is highlighting this: https://www.science.org/content/article/blood-abnormalities-found-people-long-covid
The authors of one study wanted to compare post-covid patients with subjects that had fully recovered from COVID-19. Many “healthy” subjects volunteered. But after a closer look at these recovered volunteers, the majority had to be rejected since they were no way near their pre-exposure performance. This is a frightening finding. Hence, our repetition: We protect ourselves, we do not want this virus! Definitely not wanted!
N.M.: Is it correct, then, to tell the people the virus no longer poses a threat? The pandemic is over?
B&B: To us, this is irresponsible. We remember the spring of 2022, when kids brought the virus from school into their families. There’s no way to keep the virus out for a family with school children. To be at the virus’ mercy is a horrible feeling.
What exactly was it, SARS-CoV-2? An infection with this virus is leading to illness of the blood system, the immune system, the vascular system, and the nerve system (including the brain).
Hence, the virus is not named correctly. It is a pathogen that is transmitted by air (respiratory). But it may afflict every organ. This results in the individual symptoms. Infections may even reappear. From studies on HIV and some herpes viruses we know a virus may hide from the immune system in certain cells. Is this true for SARS-CoV-2? We have the suspicion, but the scientific proof is not made yet. That would mean, that in certain patients the virus may be recurring, but not detectable in the upper respiratory tract (in the nasopharyngeal zone).
Long/post covid comes with a chronic fatigue with individual causes that are not well understood. Science here is reaching not just its financial limits. We would have some ideas in this direction leading to more know how. In the US, the syndrome is being treated individually, depending on the individual examination results.
Treatment of long covid in many cases is not covered by health insurance, which is inacceptable. A general criticism of the German health sector is the propensity to treat rather than prevent. With post covid the insurers point to a lack of scientific studies. Homeopathy, on the other hand, is being paid by the same insurance companies in Germany. Science has proven that homeopathy has no medical effect whatsoever. But all insurance companies are paying happily. Every policy-holder is forced to pay the bills for other people’s homeopathic treatment. Even if we would never take such a useless treatment. We had suggested to our insurance company to give the policy holder a choice, if they wanted homeopathic treatments to be covered or not. This would be a reasonable way. Alternatively, everyone could simply pay the “treatment” themselves, if he/she thinks it helpful even in the event they may be harmful in cases of severe disease. Here, we think of cases where homeopathy was the only treatment of cancer, with a deadly outcome.
N.M.: What can you tell us about side effects and potential damage by vaccines?
In very rare cases, vaccination may result in vaccination damage. This does not afflict many people. The advantage of vaccination for the greatest majority, for millions of people, is proven. The EU, in contrast to the US, has only licensed vaccines after a full study. This means, the manufacturer is liable. In the US this was different. The emergency license did not hold the manufacturers in responsibility due to fast-track approvals by the FDA.
As of now, it is unclear, what causes these rare side effects. We do have the suspicion it might be the viral spike protein, that is included in all vaccines. This protein is also present in huge amounts in case of an infection. So, we think, people who suffered from a vaccine side effect would have suffered as well after infection with the virus.
N.M.: I want to ask, again, about the mood disorders in COVID-19 patients.
Sabine: People who are suffering, going through a painful and difficult phase are generally in an unhappy mood. The same is true for people who do not see a way out of their unsatisfactory situation. This may even result in a depressive mood or a full-scale depression. This is a normal human reaction. We know that people are recovering faster and better if they get psychological support. The soul needs a fitting help. In Germany we have a plethora of psychologists, shrinks, and psychiatrists. Use this if it helps you. You recognize a good therapist, if you fell better after the first session, but this is of course depending on the cause.
N.M.: How did you fare in this situation?
B&B: Personally, we were lucky. We are thankful, but we also protect ourselves with vaccines and a consistent wearing of N95 masks. We also reduced in-person meetings to the absolute necessary. We changed our lives and our habits, reduced deadline pressure, but we work constantly. Should we need some help, we would welcome support from other disciplines. We appreciate good, committed, and competent people. Such help is always welcome. To ask for help is a strength not a weakness.
Damage done by infections is far too high to cruise this pandemic without protection. The German health Minister and medical doctor Prof. Karl Lauterbach should know better and communicate this explicitly!
A word to those who had recovered from COVID-19: Immune protection will keep up to 4 – 6 months. After 4 months, immunity starts to wane. This is an individual process, some may already lose protection after 6 weeks, especially the old and those with chronic diseases. Consequently, you may all be re-infected. This virus is treacherous! Each new infection is coming with a new risk and an uncertain outcome.
Should our politicians continue to do nothing, to not fight the pandemic, to protect the people, one round of infection after the other will grind down the people. Our call to the politicians: Don’t just treat symptoms with a rainfall of money, but to finance ways out of this pandemic and prepare for future pandemics.
We stick to it: Vaccines and N95 masks are the best protection. One note to masks in media: Our media continue to show people wearing masks in the most ridiculous way. Remember: N95 masks – if used correctly – offer 95 % protection. Surgical masks offer some protection, community masks are rubbish. The virus is too small to be filtered by them.
Out in the open, with no-one around, you do not need to wear a mask. Once you enter a building or any closed space, don the mask before entering, and keep it on until after you left the building. Dear Dr. Hirschhausen (our medical TV doctor), you need to correct this in your shows! We take the liberty to criticize and correct.
Should you join a large group outside, in crowded shopping malls, fairs, festivals, don an N95 mask. Omicron is also better at spreading in the outdoors. If possible, just avoid large gatherings. Keep your physical and psychological health in balance, no need to get lonesome. There are other ways to communicate. We just have to learn to use these for a longer while. And, yes, less social people now do have an advantage.
N.M.: After three pandemic years my question would be, will this virus ever disappear?
B&B: It will not disappear. It is far to late for that. We have to learn to live with it. Even in China, where drastic measures are still in place, there are recurring outbreaks. The country has a low vaccination rate, and relatively few infected people. Thus, the virus is getting into an immunologically largely naïve population. Who knows, maybe the virus has found an animal reservoir there, to come back once in a while. Unfortunately, this cannot be tested, since the Chinese government is not cooperating internationally. This might be an explanation why this country is seeing recurring outbreaks in spite of strict controls of people’s behavior.
In short: The virus is here to stay. We need to deal with it. Therefore, we are promoting not just to count on vaccines, but for other alternatives to treat and for prophylaxis. This needs money. Lots of it. But in the long run, it will more than pay off, since every outbreak comes with big economic damages, as we have seen. The magnitude of the damage came as a surprise even to us.
N.M.: Sabine and Jörg, thank you for the interview. Stay healthy and well. I look forward to the next opportunity to talk to you.
B&B: Thanks, dear Nixus. Always a pleasure. We wish you and all our readers a good health or a speedy recovery and thank you for your interest. Share the link to increase our range, to reach as many people as possible around the globe. We are there for you. Help in your own interest to spread facts and information and advertise funding of new drugs and treatments which we all need. We thank you all.
By the way, the company SAJO after its successful mission will be transformed into a foundation for the better of the people. We care for the wellbeing of mankind. We know how to find and develop new antiviral molecules – this is our USP, the SAJO key technology, brilliant and ready to use.
Dr. Sabine Breun and Dr. Joerg Baumann, both PhDs, virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists and founders of SAJO. Both are specialized in infectious diseases. Since the 90s, Dr. Baumann has been working on zoonoses and how pathogens overcome the species barrier. Since 2000, Dr. Breun works on the interaction of viruses with the immune system. Both work as team. SAJO enables new antivirals – antivirals of the next generation to fight pandemics.
During their scientific carreers, both performed scientific work for 5 years at the National Cancer Institute in a US elite program on competitive US scholarships.
SAJO – for a healthy and better future!
SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic.
This is post No. 234. To our delight our blog is receiving a lot of acceptance, we love to share our know-how and expertise. Please feel free to share the link – it is an informative tool to fight this pandemic.
(Note: We are no members of political parties, religious congregations, or societies. We value independence, sovereignty, and freedom. With our blog we are providing purely scientific advice, without conflict of interest, altruistic. We are not being paid for it.)
The SAJO high technology (the heart of SAJO) allows for the identification and isolation of next generation antiviral and antibacterial components for the development of new drugs, for prevention or therapy. This is what we do best – these are our USP and our strength.
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Visit Sabine at XING https://www.xing.com/profile/Sabine_Breun and Jörg at LinkedIn https://de.linkedin.com/in/j%C3%B6rg-baumann-phd-0710b11a3