Coronavirus: Can vitamin D really ensure protection against the deadly virus?

Coronavirus: Can vitamin D really ensure protection against the deadly virus?

  • October 16, 2020
According to a recent report by BBC news, scientists have been looking for volunteers to take part in a new trial test that will determine the role of vitamin D in fighting against Covid-19. The trial is led by a group of researchers from Queen Mary University of London and is funded by Barts Charity.

As against the process of developing a vaccine to stop the infection, this new trial will delve deeper into strengthening people’s immune system and improving their health. People who will be participating in the trial will be given a higher dose of Vitamin D than regular supplements, so as to see if there is any visible difference, as per reports.

While vitamin D has remained an important source of nutrient for our body as well as the immune system, it is only proper to first understand how it affects our immune system and whether or not it boosts our health conditions.

The relationship between Vitamin D and the immune system


Our immune system the line of defense that secures our body from possible infection and diseases. However, in order to be able to protect the body and activate its defenses, it must first seek the support of healthy nutrients, especially Vitamin D. With the help of its anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, Vitamin D ensures the enhancement of immune cells that fight deadly pathogens.

That being said, low level of Vitamin D and vitamin deficiency can be associated with greater risk of acquiring diseases, infections and respiratory problems, which is why Vitamin D becomes extremely crucial for our health.

Can Vitamin D really fight the battle against Covid-19?


Well, there is no standard cure for the deadly virus yet and while each and every one of us has been taking precautions and maintaining social distancing, there have been few studies that have investigated the effect of vitamin D supplements or vitamin D deficiency on the risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

Reportedly, Vitamin D deficiency is more common in elderly people, among those who are overweight, black and Asian – groups that are at a higher risk of contracting the Covid-19 infection.

Therefore, while nothing has been determined at this stage, the new trial test seems to be a ray of hope for many. According to the Principal investigator David Jolliffe, the trial “has the potential to give a definitive answer” to whether vitamin D offers protection against Covid-19. “Vitamin D supplements are low in cost, low in risk and widely accessible; if proven effective, they could significantly aid in our global fight against the virus,” he adds.

Immune system holds clues to virus reaction – Times News Online

Immune system holds clues to virus reaction – Times News Online

  • October 6, 2020

One of COVID-19’s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die – and scientists are starting to unravel why.

An international team of researchers found that in some people with severe COVID-19, the body goes rogue and attacks one of its own key immune defenses instead of fighting the coronavirus. Most were men, helping to explain why the virus is hitting men harder than women.

And separate research suggests that children fare better than adults thanks to robust “first responder” immune cells that wane with age.

They’re the latest in a list of studies uncovering multiple features of the immune system’s intricate cascade that can tip the scales between a good or bad outcome.

Next up: Figuring out if all these new clues might offer much-needed ways to intervene.

“We have the knowledge and capability of really boosting many aspects of the immune system. But we need to not use the sledgehammer,” cautioned Dr. Betsy Herold of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who co-authored the child study.

Adding to the complexity, people’s wildly varying reactions also reflect other factors, such as how healthy they were to begin with and how much of the virus – the “dose” – they were exposed to.

“Infection and what happens after infection is a very dynamic thing,” said Alessandro Sette, a researcher at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, who is studying yet another piece of the immune response.

IMMUNE PRIMER

There are two main arms of the immune system. Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense. As soon as the body detects a foreign intruder, key molecules, such as interferons and inflammation-causing cytokines, launch a wide-ranging attack.

Innate immune cells also alert the slower-acting “adaptive” arm of the immune system, the germ-specific sharpshooters, to gear up. B cells start producing virus-fighting antibodies, the proteins getting so much attention in the vaccine hunt.

But antibodies aren’t the whole story. Adaptive immunity’s many other ingredients include “killer” T cells that destroy virus-infected cells – and “memory” T and B cells that remember an infection so they spring into action quicker if they encounter that germ again.

A MISSING PIECE

Usually when a virus invades a cell, proteins called Type I interferons spring into action, defending the cell by interfering with viral growth. But new research shows those crucial molecules were essentially absent in a subset of people with severe COVID-19.

An international project uncovered two reasons. In blood from nearly 1,000 severe COVID-19 patients, researchers found 1 in 10 had what are called auto-antibodies – antibodies that mistakenly attack those needed virus fighters. Especially surprising, autoimmune disorders tend to be more common in women – but 95% of these COVID-19 patients were men.

The researchers didn’t find the damaging molecules in patients with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19.

In another 660 severely ill patients, the same team found 3.5% had gene mutations that didn’t produce Type I interferons.

Each of those silent vulnerabilities was enough to tip the balance in favor of the virus early on, said Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova, an infectious disease geneticist at Rockefeller University in New York, who co-leads the COVID Human Genetic Effort. He is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also helps fund The Associated Press Health and Science Department.

Certain interferons are used as medicines and are under study as a possible COVID-19 treatment; the auto-antibody discovery adds another factor to consider.

KIDS’ IMMUNITY REVS FAST

It’s not clear why children appear less at risk from COVID-19. But occasionally they’re sick enough for hospitalization, giving Herold’s team the opportunity to compare 60 adults and 65 children and teens at New York’s Montefiore Health System.

The children produced much higher levels of certain cytokines that are among the innate immune system’s first responders. When the immune system’s next stage kicked in, both adults and children made antibodies targeting the coronavirus. Here’s the rub: The adults’ adaptive immune response was more the type that can trigger an inflammatory overreaction.

The findings suggest kids’ early robust reaction lets their immune system get ahead of the virus, making an overreaction less likely “and that’s protecting them,” Herold said.

ANY PRE-EXISTING IMMUNITY?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new to humans. But Sette’s team studied blood samples that were stored in freezers before the pandemic and found some harbored memory T cells that recognized a tiny portion of the new virus in laboratory tests.

“You can actually tell that this is an experienced T cell. This has seen combat before,” Sette said. Researchers in Germany, Britain and other countries have made similar findings.

The new coronavirus has cousins that cause as many as 30% of common colds, so researchers believe those T cells could be remnants from past colds.

But despite the speculation, “we don’t know yet” that having those T cells makes any difference in who gets seriously sick with COVID-19, noted Rory de Vries, co-author of a study in the Netherlands that also found such T cells in old blood.

All these findings beg for a deeper understanding of the myriad ways some people can be more susceptible than others.

“We need to look quite broadly and not jump into premature conclusions about any one particular facet of the immune system,” said Stanford University immunologist Bali Pulendran. He also has found some innate immune cells “in a state of hibernation” in seriously ill adults and next is looking for differences before and after people get sick.

But, “it’s not just all about the immune system,” cautioned Dr. Anita McElroy, a viral immunity expert at the University of Pittsburgh who’s closely watching the research. A way to tell in advance who’s most at risk? “We’re a long, long way from that.”

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland, in 2020, shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. One of COVID-19’s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die – and scientists are starting to unravel why. NIAID/NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH VIA AP

Health Professionals Talk New Virus Testing, Boosts To Immune System

Health Professionals Talk New Virus Testing, Boosts To Immune System

  • October 3, 2020

By Brian Indre

THE EPIC WAITS to get tested for the novel coronavirus are no more — well, at least for now. After the latest surge died down following the Fourth of July, health practitioners don’t believe it will return unless there’s another spike. (Photo: J. Michael Whalen)

Autumn is here, and as the temperature drops and the risk for Covid-19 spikes increases, doctors emphasize how important accurate testing is as well as the possibility of an effective vaccine, while healthcare professionals offer advice on how to boost your immune system.

If the predicted upcoming surge in coronavirus cases creates a need for testing similar to the most recent one — which stretched from Memorial Day through a couple weeks after the Fourth of July — Dr. Gordon Theisz, the head of Family Medicine in Falls Church, explained that the testing capability will be overwhelmed and it will take longer.

It would be similar to the initial outbreak of the virus in Northern Virginia. During the peak of the pandemic in the spring, trying to get tested and knowing where to go was confusing, and oftentimes the test results took weeks to get back, which at that point wasn’t helpful. So Theisz, being one of the few private practices not tied to INOVA in the area, found a way to make his own tests.

“Coordinating with test labs we were able to make our own test kits, since getting them has been a challenge throughout the pandemic,” Theisz said. “If you couldn’t get test kits or get the materials to make them, or your staff was afraid of getting Covid; you did what a lot of doctors did, and closed the office and did televisits only for months.”

Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp sent instructions for how private practices could make their own test kits, and with the materials on hand to do it. As a result, Family Medicine said they never stopped testing.

“It would have been a challenge if we only had ten test kits in the office, and then having to decide who to use them on,” Theisz continued. “You should use them on everyone because Covid has symptoms that lead from nothing to terrible.”

The polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test is the most common way of checking for virus symptoms. It’s performed by using a large nasal swab and inserting into someone’s nose to gather a DNA sample. Theisz said that the relatively low number of positives, which he mentioned was about two to three per week, have made its three-day turnaround not much of a problem.

However, with some schools and workplaces reopening, more people are being required to get tested, and some people want to get tested because they will be traveling or believe they were exposed and want to be sure they aren’t a silent carrier.

Family Medicine has accommodated more on-the-go testing options, such as drive-up testing done by appointment only, and the staff can help determine if you need to be tested.

“We try to keep people that are sick out of the office until we are confident that whatever they are coming in for is not Covid,” said Theisz. “In addition to office visits, about 10 percent of appointments are televisits, which has gone down from around 50 percent during the height of the pandemic.”

Even quicker tests are being used in certain markets. The FDA has issued an EUA (emergency use authorization) for a couple different saliva-based tests for Covid, one developed at Rutgers University and the other at Yale University.

The Yale test called SalivaDirect is funded by the NBA, and will be the much cheaper option for patients because it doesn’t extract RNA (ribonucleic acid), which is what is needed for results for the Rutgers test and the nasal swab tests.

“It’s probably a promising test, but I’d have to review the statistics on it,” Theisz said. “When a test has an EUA, data has to be provided to the FDA on how accurate it is, and these tests are not fully studied like that of most tests that have years of evaluation.”

LESS INVASIVE saliva tests may eventually replace the nasal swab PCR tests. (Photo: J. Michael Whalen)

Those who were sick in the spring may be curious about antibody testing to see if they may have had Covid previously. Unfortunately antibody testing isn’t always accurate and can even produce a false-positive result. For those who do have a positive antibody test, it is unknown if it will protect you from getting infected again and it doesn’t indicate if you can infect others.

“We have no idea what having antibodies to Covid really means, so if you have a positive antibody test, we can’t say for sure that you are immune. It would be nice if you were, but we tell those patients to go with the social norm, which is everybody should wear a mask in public,” said Theisz.

“Within two weeks of March 13, chances are that someone feeling ill had had the flu, but after about April 1 there was no more flu, so that is where we will see the positives for Covid,” Theisz said. “And most of the positive antibody tests tend to be people who knew that they were exposed to it.”

When a vaccination becomes available to the public with adequate published data which includes reported side effects, efficacy, and everything else that medical professionals will want to see, then Theisz says he would recommend it and get it himself.

“The problem is that the timeline of the vaccine has become political. If a politician is saying that we are going to have a vaccine before the election, a lot of people would suspect that there is a problem with it, and I would be a bit skeptical of a vaccine that gets EUA from the FDA, if there seems that there were pressure from the administration to get it out,” said Theisz.

And when a vaccine is available, should the public trust it right away?

“I would want my doctor to tell me why they think this is a good vaccine,” said Theisz. “We are going to rely on the government and the FDA to tell us the vaccine is okay, and the moment they find out that it is not okay, we are going to rely on them to pull it and say no more,” he said. “If you see that kind of stuff happening then you know that the research has been done right.”

But before even getting to the point that someone may feel sick enough to need a test, it’s important to know what they could do to improve their body’s condition so warding off the virus is all the easier.

Megan Pennington is an integrative health practitioner who specializes in chronic illness and immune system health and overall nutrition. Although she resides in Canada, she has many patients who live in the U.S. She told the News-Press to offer some expert advice on how Vitamin D can play a role in your immune system response to Covid and other viruses.

Pennington explained that her approach to helping the immune system to work optimally is to decrease inflammation, because inflammation is the underlying mechanism by which the immune system deals with infection and pathogens.

“If inflammation gets to a point where it’s chronic, then it starts to damage our tissues, and recent research shows that happening with Covid,” said Pennington. “An unregulated immune response or a heightened or hyperactive immune response is creating too much inflammation which is called a Cytokine Storm, and that is what is causing the damage in the very symptomatic and severe cases.”

In order to modulate the immune system or help it do its job properly without over responding with inflammation is to give it the resources that it needs to dampen that inflammatory response, and Vitamin D is one of those resources.

“Vitamin D is a key player in the inflammatory response, and studies show that low levels will allow inflammation to run rampant, whereas adequate levels will have an inhibitory effect on the inflammatory cascade,” said Pennington.

Studies have shown that an estimated 1 billion people worldwide have inadequate levels of Vitamin D in their blood.

“For anyone concerned about their vitamin D levels should get a test done to show their doctor. It can be a safe way of giving your body an extra boost to help respond appropriately to an infection,” said Pennington.



Immune system holds clues to virus reaction

Immune system holds clues to virus reaction

  • October 1, 2020

One of COVID-19′s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die — and scientists are starting to unravel why.

An international team of researchers found that in some people with severe COVID-19, the body goes rogue and attacks one of its own key immune defenses instead of fighting the coronavirus. Most were men, helping to explain why the virus is hitting men harder than women.

And separate research suggests that children fare better than adults thanks to robust “first responder” immune cells that wane with age.

They’re the latest in a list of studies uncovering multiple features of the immune system’s intricate cascade that can tip the scales between a good or bad outcome. Next up: Figuring out if all these new clues might offer much-needed ways to intervene.

“We have the knowledge and capability of really boosting many aspects of the immune system. But we need to not use the sledge hammer,” cautioned Dr. Betsy Herold of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who co-authored the child study.

Adding to the complexity, people’s wildly varying reactions also reflect other factors, such as how healthy they were to begin with and how much of the virus — the “dose” — they were exposed to.

“Infection and what happens after infection is a very dynamic thing,” said Alessandro Sette, a researcher at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, who is studying yet another piece of the immune response.

IMMUNE PRIMER

There are two main arms of the immune system. Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense. As soon as the body detects a foreign intruder, key molecules, such as interferons and inflammation-causing cytokines, launch a wide-ranging attack.

Innate immune cells also alert the slower-acting “adaptive” arm of the immune system, the germ-specific sharpshooters, to gear up. B cells start producing virus-fighting antibodies, the proteins getting so much attention in the vaccine hunt.

But antibodies aren’t the whole story. Adaptive immunity’s many other ingredients include “killer” T cells that destroy virus-infected cells — and “memory” T and B cells that remember an infection so they spring into action quicker if they encounter that germ again.

A MISSING PIECE

Usually when a virus invades a cell, proteins called Type I interferons spring into action, defending the cell by interfering with viral growth. But new research shows those crucial molecules were essentially absent in a subset of people with severe COVID-19.

An international project uncovered two reasons. In blood from nearly 1,000 severe COVID-19 patients, researchers found 1 in 10 had what are called auto-antibodies — antibodies that mistakenly attack those needed virus fighters. Especially surprising, autoimmune disorders tend to be more common in women — but 95% of these COVID-19 patients were men.

The researchers didn’t find the damaging molecules in patients with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19.

In another 660 severely ill patients, the same team found 3.5% had gene mutations that didn’t produce Type I interferons.

Each of those silent vulnerabilities was enough to tip the balance in favor of the virus early on, said Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova, an infectious disease geneticist at Rockefeller University in New York, who co-leads the COVID Human Genetic Effort. He is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also helps fund The Associated Press Health and Science Department.

Certain interferons are used as medicines and are under study as a possible COVID-19 treatment; the auto-antibody discovery adds another factor to consider.

KIDS’ IMMUNITY REVS FAST

It’s not clear why children appear less at risk from COVID-19. But occasionally they’re sick enough for hospitalization, giving Herold’s team the opportunity to compare 60 adults and 65 children and teens at New York’s Montefiore Health System.

The children produced much higher levels of certain cytokines that are among the innate immune system’s first responders. When the immune system’s next stage kicked in, both adults and children made antibodies targeting the coronavirus. Here’s the rub: The adults’ adaptive immune response was more the type that can trigger an inflammatory overreaction.

The findings suggest kids’ early robust reaction lets their immune system get ahead of the virus, making an overreaction less likely “and that’s protecting them,” Herold said.

ANY PREEXISTING IMMUNITY?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new to humans. But Sette’s team studied blood samples that were stored in freezers before the pandemic and found some harbored memory T cells that recognized a tiny portion of the new virus in laboratory tests.

“You can actually tell that this is an experienced T cell. This has seen combat before,” Sette said. Researchers in Germany, Britain and other countries have made similar findings.

The new coronavirus has cousins that cause as many as 30% of common colds, so researchers believe those T cells could be remnants from past colds.

But despite the speculation, “we don’t know yet” that having those T cells makes any difference in who gets seriously sick with COVID-19, noted Rory de Vries, co-author of a study in the Netherlands that also found such T cells in old blood.

All these findings beg for a deeper understanding of the myriad ways some people can be more susceptible than others.

“We need to look quite broadly and not jump into premature conclusions about any one particular facet of the immune system,” said Stanford University immunologist Bali Pulendran. He also has found some innate immune cells “in a state of hibernation” in seriously ill adults and next is looking for differences before and after people get sick.

But, “it’s not just all about the immune system,” cautioned Dr. Anita McElroy, a viral immunity expert at the University of Pittsburgh who’s closely watching the research. A way to tell in advance who’s most at risk? “We’re a long, long way from that.”

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Virus_Outbreak_Immunity_72517

Mild to severe: Immune system holds clues to people’s diverse reactions to virus

  • October 1, 2020

One of COVID-19’s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die – and scientists are starting to unravel why.

An international team of researchers found that in some people with severe COVID-19, the body goes rogue and attacks one of its own key immune defenses instead of fighting the coronavirus. Most were men, helping to explain why the virus is hitting men harder than women.

And separate research suggests that children fare better than adults thanks to robust “first responder” immune cells that wane with age.

They’re the latest in a list of studies uncovering multiple features of the immune system’s intricate cascade that can tip the scales between a good or bad outcome. Next up: Figuring out if all these new clues might offer much-needed ways to intervene.

Virus_Outbreak_Immunity_72517

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., in 2020, shows novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. One of COVID-19’s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die – and scientists are starting to unravel why. NIAID/National Institutes of Health via Associated Press

“We have the knowledge and capability of really boosting many aspects of the immune system. But we need to not use the sledge hammer,” cautioned Dr. Betsy Herold of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who co-authored the child study.

Adding to the complexity, people’s wildly varying reactions also reflect other factors, such as how healthy they were to begin with and how much of the virus – the “dose” – they were exposed to.

“Infection and what happens after infection is a very dynamic thing,” said Alessandro Sette, a researcher at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, who is studying yet another piece of the immune response.

IMMUNE PRIMER

There are two main arms of the immune system. Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense. As soon as the body detects a foreign intruder, key molecules, such as interferons and inflammation-causing cytokines, launch a wide-ranging attack.

Innate immune cells also alert the slower-acting “adaptive” arm of the immune system, the germ-specific sharpshooters, to gear up. B cells start producing virus-fighting antibodies, the proteins getting so much attention in the vaccine hunt.

But antibodies aren’t the whole story. Adaptive immunity’s many other ingredients include “killer” T cells that destroy virus-infected cells – and “memory” T and B cells that remember an infection so they spring into action more quickly if they encounter that germ again.

A MISSING PIECE

Usually when a virus invades a cell, proteins called Type I interferons spring into action, defending the cell by interfering with viral growth. But new research shows those crucial molecules were essentially absent in a subset of people with severe COVID-19.

An international project uncovered two reasons. In blood from nearly 1,000 severe COVID-19 patients, researchers found 1 in 10 had what are called auto-antibodies – antibodies that mistakenly attack those needed virus fighters. Especially surprising, autoimmune disorders tend to be more common in women – but 95 percent of these COVID-19 patients were men.

The researchers didn’t find the damaging molecules in patients with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19.

In another 660 severely ill patients, the same team found 3.5 percent had gene mutations that didn’t produce Type I interferons.

Each of those silent vulnerabilities was enough to tip the balance in favor of the virus early on, said Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova, an infectious disease geneticist at Rockefeller University in New York, who co-leads the COVID Human Genetic Effort. He is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also helps fund The Associated Press Health and Science Department.

Certain interferons are used as medicines and are under study as a possible COVID-19 treatment; the auto-antibody discovery adds another factor to consider.

KIDS’ IMMUNITY REVS FAST

It’s not clear why children appear less at risk from COVID-19. But occasionally they’re sick enough for hospitalization, giving Herold’s team the opportunity to compare 60 adults and 65 children and teens at New York’s Montefiore Health System.

The children produced much higher levels of certain cytokines that are among the innate immune system’s first responders. When the immune system’s next stage kicked in, both adults and children made antibodies targeting the coronavirus. Here’s the rub: The adults’ adaptive immune response was more the type that can trigger an inflammatory overreaction.

The findings suggest kids’ early robust reaction lets their immune system get ahead of the virus, making an overreaction less likely, “and that’s protecting them,” Herold said.

ANY PRE-EXISTING IMMUNITY?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new to humans. But Sette’s team studied blood samples that were stored in freezers before the pandemic and found some harbored memory T cells that recognized a tiny portion of the new virus in laboratory tests.

“You can actually tell that this is an experienced T cell. This has seen combat before,” Sette said. Researchers in Germany, Britain and other countries have made similar findings.

The new coronavirus has cousins that cause as many as 30 percent of common colds, so researchers believe those T cells could be remnants from past colds.

But despite the speculation, “we don’t know yet” that having those T cells makes any difference in who gets seriously sick with COVID-19, noted Rory de Vries, co-author of a study in the Netherlands that also found such T cells in old blood.

All these findings beg for a deeper understanding of the myriad ways some people can be more susceptible than others.

“We need to look quite broadly and not jump into premature conclusions about any one particular facet of the immune system,” said Stanford University immunologist Bali Pulendran. He also has found some innate immune cells “in a state of hibernation” in seriously ill adults and next is looking for differences before and after people get sick.

But “it’s not just all about the immune system,” cautioned Dr. Anita McElroy, a viral immunity expert at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who’s closely watching the research. A way to tell in advance who’s most at risk? “We’re a long, long way from that.”


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Mild to severe: Immune system holds clues to virus reaction

Mild to severe: Immune system holds clues to virus reaction

  • October 1, 2020

One of COVID-19’s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die — and scientists are starting to unravel why.

An international team of researchers found that in some people with severe COVID-19, the body goes rogue and attacks one of its own key immune defenses instead of fighting the coronavirus. Most were men, helping to explain why the virus is hitting men harder than women.

And separate research suggests that children fare better than adults thanks to robust “first responder” immune cells that wane with age.

They’re the latest in a list of studies uncovering multiple features of the immune system’s intricate cascade that can tip the scales between a good or bad outcome. Next up: Figuring out if all these new clues might offer much-needed ways to intervene.

“We have the knowledge and capability of really boosting many aspects of the immune system. But we need to not use the sledge hammer,” cautioned Dr. Betsy Herold of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who co-authored the child study.

Adding to the complexity, people’s wildly varying reactions also reflect other factors, such as how healthy they were to begin with and how much of the virus — the “dose” — they were exposed to.

“Infection and what happens after infection is a very dynamic thing,” said Alessandro Sette, a researcher at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, who is studying yet another piece of the immune response.

IMMUNE PRIMER

There are two main arms of the immune system. Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense. As soon as the body detects a foreign intruder, key molecules, such as interferons and inflammation-causing cytokines, launch a wide-ranging attack.

Innate immune cells also alert the slower-acting “adaptive” arm of the immune system, the germ-specific sharpshooters, to gear up. B cells start producing virus-fighting antibodies, the proteins getting so much attention in the vaccine hunt.

But antibodies aren’t the whole story. Adaptive immunity’s many other ingredients include “killer” T cells that destroy virus-infected cells — and “memory” T and B cells that remember an infection so they spring into action quicker if they encounter that germ again.

A MISSING PIECE

Usually when a virus invades a cell, proteins called Type I interferons spring into action, defending the cell by interfering with viral growth. But new research shows those crucial molecules were essentially absent in a subset of people with severe COVID-19.

An international project uncovered two reasons. In blood from nearly 1,000 severe COVID-19 patients, researchers found 1 in 10 had what are called auto-antibodies — antibodies that mistakenly attack those needed virus fighters. Especially surprising, autoimmune disorders tend to be more common in women — but 95% of these COVID-19 patients were men.

The researchers didn’t find the damaging molecules in patients with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19.

In another 660 severely ill patients, the same team found 3.5% had gene mutations that didn’t produce Type I interferons.

Each of those silent vulnerabilities was enough to tip the balance in favor of the virus early on, said Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova, an infectious disease geneticist at Rockefeller University in New York, who co-leads the COVID Human Genetic Effort. He is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also helps fund The Associated Press Health and Science Department.

Certain interferons are used as medicines and are under study as a possible COVID-19 treatment; the auto-antibody discovery adds another factor to consider.

KIDS’ IMMUNITY REVS FAST

It’s not clear why children appear less at risk from COVID-19. But occasionally they’re sick enough for hospitalization, giving Herold’s team the opportunity to compare 60 adults and 65 children and teens at New York’s Montefiore Health System.

The children produced much higher levels of certain cytokines that are among the innate immune system’s first responders. When the immune system’s next stage kicked in, both adults and children made antibodies targeting the coronavirus. Here’s the rub: The adults’ adaptive immune response was more the type that can trigger an inflammatory overreaction.

The findings suggest kids’ early robust reaction lets their immune system get ahead of the virus, making an overreaction less likely “and that’s protecting them,” Herold said.

ANY PREEXISTING IMMUNITY?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new to humans. But Sette’s team studied blood samples that were stored in freezers before the pandemic and found some harbored memory T cells that recognized a tiny portion of the new virus in laboratory tests.

“You can actually tell that this is an experienced T cell. This has seen combat before,” Sette said. Researchers in Germany, Britain and other countries have made similar findings.

The new coronavirus has cousins that cause as many as 30% of common colds, so researchers believe those T cells could be remnants from past colds.

But despite the speculation, “we don’t know yet” that having those T cells makes any difference in who gets seriously sick with COVID-19, noted Rory de Vries, co-author of a study in the Netherlands that also found such T cells in old blood.

All these findings beg for a deeper understanding of the myriad ways some people can be more susceptible than others.

“We need to look quite broadly and not jump into premature conclusions about any one particular facet of the immune system,” said Stanford University immunologist Bali Pulendran. He also has found some innate immune cells “in a state of hibernation” in seriously ill adults and next is looking for differences before and after people get sick.

But, “it’s not just all about the immune system,” cautioned Dr. Anita McElroy, a viral immunity expert at the University of Pittsburgh who’s closely watching the research. A way to tell in advance who’s most at risk? “We’re a long, long way from that.”

———

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Australian scientists develop a nasal spray that could stop SARS-CoV-2 infection

Australian scientists develop a nasal spray that could stop SARS-CoV-2 infection

  • September 30, 2020

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), continues to wreak havoc globally, scientists race to develop an effective medicine or vaccine to fight the infection. With more than 33.5 million people infected since the pandemic started in December 2019, finding a treatment for those infected is crucial to stemming its spread.

Now, a biotech company in Australia, Ena Respiratory, said that a nasal spray it is developing might help boost the human immune system to fight flu and common colds, significantly reduced the growth of the coronavirus in a recent study in animals.

The potential nasal spray may not only help treat COVID-19 but also prevent it.

The nasal spray

The novel product, called INNA-051, is being developed by Ena Respiratory, and laboratory experiments have shown that it reduced viral replication by as much as 96 percent in the animal study. Spearheaded by Public Health England’s (PHE) Deputy Director, Professor Miles Carroll, the new study described the potential treatment and has been published in the open-source preprint server bioRxiv*.

Used as a nasal spray, it aims to boost the natural immune system of the body to fight common colds and flu. It works by triggering the innate immune system, which is the body’s first line of defense against infection from a pathogen. When the drug has enhanced the immune system, it also prevented the infection and replication of SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory.

Clinical observations. (a) Schematic of experimental design. Ferrets received INNA-051 and PBS treatments 4 days and 1 day prior to challenge with 5.0 x 106 pfu/ml SARS-CoV-2. Nasal wash and throat swabs were collected at days 1, 3, 5, 7, 10 & 12 post challenge (p.c.) for all treatment groups and control group. Scheduled culls were performed for 6/24 ferrets on day 3 p.c. and 18/24 ferrets on days 12-14 p.c. (b) Temperatures were measured twice daily (approximately 8 hours apart), using implanted temperature/ID chips. Mean temperatures +/- standard error of the mean (SEM) are displayed. Temperature dip post SARS-CoV-2 challenge (*) was attributed to sedation. (b) Weight was recorded daily and percentage change from the ferret weight prior to treatment plotted. Mean percentage weight change +/- SEM are displayed.

Clinical observations. (a) Schematic of experimental design. Ferrets received INNA-051 and PBS treatments 4 days and 1 day prior to challenge with 5.0 x 106 pfu/ml SARS-CoV-2. Nasal wash and throat swabs were collected at days 1, 3, 5, 7, 10 & 12 post challenge (p.c.) for all treatment groups and control group. Scheduled culls were performed for 6/24 ferrets on day 3 p.c. and 18/24 ferrets on days 12-14 p.c. (b) Temperatures were measured twice daily (approximately 8 hours apart), using implanted temperature/ID chips. Mean temperatures +/- standard error of the mean (SEM) are displayed. Temperature dip post SARS-CoV-2 challenge (*) was attributed to sedation. (b) Weight was recorded daily and percentage change from the ferret weight prior to treatment plotted. Mean percentage weight change +/- SEM are displayed.

The study

Respiratory tract diseases, including those that cause flu, common colds, and the coronavirus infection, represent major ongoing global health threats. These viruses have caused outbreaks to pandemics, endangering the lives of those who are at higher risk, such as children, older adults, and those who are immunocompromised.

The SARS-CoV-2 infection is actively spreading worldwide, and it spreads quickly from one person to another through close contact and respiratory droplets. One of the biggest threats of the current pandemic is that several people infected with the virus are asymptomatic, which means that they do not know that they carry the virus. As a result, they are called silent spreaders.

The research team from the National Infection Service, Public Health England (PHE) wanted to develop the nasal spray to prevent the replication of the virus in the nasal area, the most common point of entry of the virus.

To test the nasal spray, the team obtained nasal wash and throat swab samples four days before the viral challenge. Upon analyzing the viral RNA in nasal wash samples, the team confirmed infection in all treatment groups, with lower viral RNA levels seen in the INNA-051 treatment.

The team has found that prophylactic intra-nasal administration of INNA-051 in the SARS-CoV-2 ferret infection model has reduced levels of viral RNA in the nose and threat.

“The results of our study support clinical development of a therapy based on prophylactic TLR2/6 innate immune activation in the URT to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission and provide protection against COVID-19,” the team wrote in the paper.

Further, the research team added that the prophylactic approach is important to people at a high risk of community transmission or development of the severe disease from COVID-19, such as older adults, people with comorbidities, and those who are immunocompromised.

“We’ve been amazed by just how effective our treatment has been. By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus,” Christophe Demaison, the Ena Respiratory Managing Director, said.


“If humans respond similarly, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission,” he added.

*Important Notice

bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Source:

Journal reference:

Researchers discover new type of antigen-presenting immune cell

Novel nasal treatment could protect people from COVID-19

  • September 30, 2020

A novel nasal treatment developed to boost the natural human immune system to fight common colds and flu, has proved remarkably successful in reducing COVID-19 viral replication test results, released today, reveal.

The novel product, INNA-051, being developed by Australian biotech company, Ena Respiratory, reduced viral replication by up to 96 percent in a gold-standard animal study led by Public Health England’s (PHE) Deputy Director, Professor Miles Carroll and now published on biomedical pre-publication research site, bioRxiv.

The INNA-051 compound works by stimulating the innate immune system, the first line of defence against the invasion of pathogens into the body. By boosting the immune response in this way with INNA-051 prior to infection, the ability of the COVID-19 virus to infect the animals and replicate was dramatically reduced the PHE study showed. The study provides evidence that INNA-051 can be used as a stand-alone method of antiviral preventative therapy, complementary to vaccine programs.

We’ve been amazed with just how effective our treatment has been. By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus. If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission.”


Ena Respiratory Managing Director, Dr Christophe Demaison

Ena Respiratory has raised AU$11.7m from Australian investors and, subject to successful toxicity studies and regulatory approval, the company could be ready to test INNA-051 in human trials in less than four months.

Investment and support in developing the novel therapy has been led from the Australian Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), Australia’s largest life science investment fund managed by Brandon Capital, with co-investment from university commercialization fund Uniseed. The company is urgently seeking additional funding to accelerate the nasal spray’s clinical development and global distribution.

Dr Chris Nave, CEO of the MRCF and co-founder of Brandon Capital, says these extremely promising results means INNA-051 is an exciting frontrunner in the battle to beat COVID-19. “We are doing all we can to support Ena Respiratory and its quest to secure additional investment to accelerate the development and testing of the therapy in humans. While a vaccine is ultimately the key solution to combating COVID-19, governments need to be developing different treatment approaches to ensure they have a range of options, in the event that a vaccine proves elusive or takes longer to develop.”

INNA-051 is a synthetic small molecule and would be self-administered via an easy-to-use nasal spray, taken once or twice a week, with the treatment taking almost immediate effect. If human trials are successful and, given the unprecedented need for drugs to combat COVID-19, this prophylactic immune modulation therapy could be rapidly manufactured at scale and be available for use soon.

“This is a significant development as the world races to find a solution to halt COVID-19 transmission and infection of at risk-populations,” says Professor Roberto Solari a respiratory specialist, advisor to Ena Respiratory and visiting Professor at Imperial College London. “Most exciting is the ability of INNA-051 to significantly reduce virus levels in the nose and throat, giving hope that this therapy could reduce COVID-19 transmission by infected people, especially those who may be presymptomatic or asymptomatic and thus unaware they are infectious,” Professor Solari says.

INNA-051 offers real hope to those in the frontline fight against COVID-19, says Dr Chris Smith, Ena Respiratory Board Director, and Senior Investment Manager at Brandon Capital. “The treatment offers significant potential to protect the most vulnerable, including those with pre-existing respiratory conditions and the elderly, where vaccines can be less effective.”

INNA-051 was in development before the outbreak of COVID-19 to promote resistance towards broader respiratory viral epidemics. Unlike vaccines which are targeted to a specific strain, INNA-051, is designed to be effective for all types of respiratory infections.

“Our nasal treatment has amazing potential for combating COVID-19 and future pandemics,” continues Dr Smith. We know that vaccinations are often the most attractive approach in combating respiratory virus epidemics, but this method often comes with challenges as vaccines trigger a specific response in the adaptive immune system which might not be effective against future mutations of a virus. INNA-051 utilizes the non-specific innate immune response meaning it is effective against a broad spectrum of viruses.”

“As an original investor alongside Uniseed, the MRCF saw great potential in INNA-051, before the COVID-19 era, to manage respiratory viral outbreaks, exactly like we are currently experiencing, although our initial focus was against influenza,” Dr Nave continues.  “We are now thrilled to be able to redirect the effort toward the fight against COVID-19. The treatment has significant potential, not only against this pandemic but also to play a key role in future viral respiratory outbreaks.”

The authors of the study include scientists from Public Health England (PHE), Ena Respiratory, and leading Australian research organisations, the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle and the University of Melbourne.

These are very exciting results and demonstrate the potential clinical utility of the Ena drug in the treatment of COVID-19 which will likely require multiple treatment approaches. It also underlines the value of facilitating early-stage commercialization of research, which can go on to create a global impact.”


Dr Peter Devine, CEO, Uniseed

Download an animation that explains how the treatment works here: https://innavac.box.com/s/x88k1wecf7qyowci332ar97avivsrnpx

Source:

Journal reference:

Proud, P.C., et al. (2020) Prophylactic intranasal administration of a TLR2 agonist reduces upper respiratory tract viral shedding in a SARS-CoV-2 challenge ferret model. bioRxiv. doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.25.309914.

Virus turns deadly fungus from foe to friend in plants

Virus turns deadly fungus from foe to friend in plants

  • September 29, 2020
Virus turns deadly fungus from foe to friend in plants
A photograph of the bright-yellow-blossom rapeseeds, which are the main ingredient for canola oil. Credit: Daohong Jiang

Researchers have discovered that a fungal virus (also called a mycovirus) can convert deadly fungal pathogens into beneficial fungus in rapeseed plants. Once transformed, the fungus boosts the plant’s immune system, making the plant healthier and more resistant to diseases. These findings, published on September 29 in the journal Molecular Plant, indicate that some fungal viruses can be used for developing “plant vaccines” to improve crop health and enhance crop yield.

Rapeseeds that cover farm fields with bright yellow blossoms like a fuzzy golden blanket are the main ingredients of our household cooking staple—canola oil. Besides serving as vegetable oil, the are also a crucial crop for animal feed and biodiesel worldwide. However, rapeseed farms experience from the fungal pathogen, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, which causes stem rot, lesions and kills the plants within a few days after infection.

“The virus we identified can convert the from a deadly pathogen in different plants to an endophytic fungus like a gentle sheep and protect these plants,” says the senior author Daohong Jiang, a professor at Huazhong Agricultural University in China. Endophytic organisms live within a plant for at least part of its life cycle without causing diseases, maintaining a symbiotic relationship. “The research is important because we know plants have , but where did it come from? The fungal virus might have played a role in the evolution of these fungi and that’s something we can look into in the future.”

When infected by the mycovirus, the rapeseed-threatening fungus loses its virulence. Instead of killing the plant, the virus-infected fungus lives peacefully within the plant and even comes with some benefits. Jiang and his colleagues infected the rapeseeds by inoculating seeds with virus-infected fungus fragments and observed a boost in the plants’ , an 18 percent increase in weight and more root growth. These plants not only grew bigger and stronger, but it could also resist other diseases.

Virus turns deadly fungus from foe to friend in plants
The fungal pathogen, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, infects and kills rapeseed plants. White mass is the hyphae of this fungus (arrows). Credit: Daohong Jiang

“The fungal virus might be a good thing for the fungus because the fungus now recognizes the plant as ‘home’ instead of killing it,” says Jiang. “The virus turned a foe to a friend.”

In the rapeseed fields, fungus-infected fragments also suppressed stem rot, stimulated plant growth and improved seed yield by 6.9—14.9 percent. Virus-infected fungal pathogens become a novel way to tackle crop diseases by decreasing the virulence of lethal pathogens. Moreover, the researchers found that the fungal virus can be transmitted to other fungal pathogens quickly and efficiently throughout the field, which are ideal traits to develop “plant vaccines.”

Virus turns deadly fungus from foe to friend in plants
A photograph of a rapeseed field at Chongqing City. Credit: Daohong Jiang

“If you treat the seed with -infected fungus, the fungus will grow with the plant throughout its life,” says Jiang. “Just like how we vaccinated our kids when they were born, the protection is life-long.”

Jiang noted that are a topic that scientists haven’t been able to control in agricultural settings. Currently, there are no plants with fungal-pathogen-resistance for these who attack a wide variety of plants. Fungi cause more than 80 percent of crop disease and destroy one-third of all food annually, causing economic loss and impacting global poverty.

“This fungal disease is also prevalent in the United States. Besides rapeseeds, the fungus also attacks sunflowers, beans and other crops,” says Jiang. “Our prevention method and research idea may benefit many others who are engaged in similar work and benefit agricultural production. It has a lot of potentials.”


Researchers find new way to protect plants from fungal infection


More information:
Molecular Plant, Zhang et al.: “A 2 Kb Mycovirus Converts A Pathogenic Fungus into Beneficial Endophyte for Brassica napus Protection and Yield Enhancement” www.cell.com/molecular-plant/f … 1674-2052(20)30293-8 , DOI: 10.1016/j.molp.2020.08.016

Citation:
Virus turns deadly fungus from foe to friend in plants (2020, September 29)
retrieved 29 September 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-virus-deadly-fungus-foe-friend.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

flu kit care package

Best Flu Care & Get Well Packages For The 2020 Virus Season

  • September 24, 2020
flu kit care package
Etsy

We’re hoping you don’t need to send out a flu care package this year, but as we’ve seen, 2020 has been unpredictable. On top of doing our best to avoid COVID-19, it’s also incredibly important to do whatever it takes to avoid the flu this season. In order to not overwhelm all the hospitals and healthcare facilities, it’s critical that you get your flu shot this year and continue to practice social distancing (and wearing your mask). But…things happen, and the flu might come for a visit. Are you ready?

On the basics checklist you need a thermometer, an assortment of meds (not expired), and a pantry full of soup. To give germs a serious fight— taking vitamins, upping your veggie intake and drinking smoothies is an easy way to boost your immunity (plus, kids love a good smoothie). Now listen, we can’t say the germs will keep their distance…no matter all the elderberry syrup, vitamin C and fresh-pressed juice you intake. But we can try our best!

And if it’s your bestie, sister or boyfriend, etc, that catches the flu and you can’t even offer to run over and help, then what? Send them a flu care package! Whether your family and friends need a soup delivery, a box of meds, a heated blanket to fight the chills or a great book subscription to pass the time (they’ve finished all of Netflix), a care package is the way to share your love and support— from far away.

Stock up your own pantry and medicine cabinet and pin those care packages. According to the CDC, flu season begins now and peaks in December. 2020 is leaving its mark all the way to the very end!

Get Well Care Package for Sick Friend Ideas:

Skip the OJ and go for raw, fresh-pressed juice in order to build up your immunity before flu season or to fight germs once they’ve arrived. Raw Generation’s bundle comes with 18 juices (in 5 flavors) and a 20 pack of Turmeric Ginger immunity “shots.” Turmeric is the superfood of anti-inflammatory and ginger being the anti-oxidant our bodies crave. Ippoliti says, “Add way more vegetable servings to your diet! If you’re having just one salad a day or a piece of broccoli, double or triple that intake!” This juice has you literally drinking up all your fruits and veggies and is so healthful, you may never go back to plain old (processed, sweetened) OJ again.

$160 AT RAW GENERATION



It’s going to be a long season, so stocking up on tea is essential. This Wellness Tea set from Sips By features 60 tea bags. Within the set is a box of tea for each need— energizing, immune boosting, mood boosting and sleep. The immune boosting teas feature ingredients like Red Rooibos, Ginseng, Organic Turmeric, Organic Ginger and Organic Matcha Powder. Sleep teas include Valerian Root, Chamomile and Lemon Balm. Speaking of sleep, we all need more these days, and if stocking up on tea will help any of us (or our friends) get there, we’re in!

$60 AT SIPS BY


Your friends/family are so not “Cup-a-Soup” kind of people (neither are we), but they’ll need their fill of soup and hot cereal to get through cold & flu season. Help them stock up with the best of the best— Patagonia Provisions. This 6-pouch sampler includes 3 soups (red bean chili, green lentil, and black bean) and 3 breakfast grains (tart apple, creamy banana and red raspberry). These are the dry goods we all need in our pantry for a quick fix. You can seriously just add boiling water if that’s all the effort you can muster, but if you’re looking for something more delish, add fresh herbs, veggies or even stock in place of water for the soups. For the grains, switch to milk and add any fruits you have on hand. Bonus points for immune-boosting berries.

$36 AT PATAGONIA PROVISIONS

Flu Care Package for Boyfriend Ideas:

Let’s face it, there is nobody less prepared in life than a man (husband, boyfriend, dad) who is sick. They are grumpy, miserable, and in need of your help— even if they won’t admit it. Too bad you need to stay away — Dr’s orders. So send them the basics they should already have in the house (but don’t). The Sick Kit has Vick’s Cough Drops, tissues, tea, lip balm, gelatin and even ginger ale and Gatorade. And yes, there’s a can of chicken soup because when we mean he’s unprepared, we mean it.

$45 AT ETSY



Every sick person needs a “dose of get well cheer,” so here it is boxed up with all of the essentials. There’s a Cup-a-Soup, a bag of cough drops, tea bags and snacks. Also a water bottle, tissues and a word find book to try to keep their mind off of being sick. Hopefully for 5+ minutes. This gift is thoughtful enough for your boyfriend, but generic enough to send to your buds, teachers and neighbors.

$25.99 AT AMAZON

Flu Care Package for Girlfriend Ideas:

For the young adults and teens who are sick, home, and bored, bored, bored (aren’t they always), this gift will perk them right up! It comes with snacks, cozy socks, a coloring book, colored pencils, a funny mug plus teas and other cute items that will make the receiver smile. These are for adults, too, because after all, coloring is for all of us and cozy socks are always welcome.

$37 AT ETSY


It’s been a rough year, and now this? Yup. She really needs a feel good moment and since you can’t be there to help your bestie, sis, mom, friend, send her some organic love by way of Roam Homegrown. Choose from Lavender or Orange Vanilla scents— both great for the cold & flu, and deliver a candle, lip balm, bath salts, body oil and face mask. Not that you need anyone to be sick to deserve this care package, but it sure as hell will make them feel a teensy bit better.

$38 AT ETSY



There is only so much Netflix any of us can watch, but reading, that’s something novel to get back into doing. The Once Upon a Book Club book box comes with a surprise, newly released fiction book that will keep any sick friend busy for at least a few days. The fun part is that along with the book, come 3-5 individually wrapped gifts that go along with this specific theme. The idea is that when you get to a certain page, you’re instructed to open the matching gift, so the book unfolds as an exciting, gift-worthy surprise. It’s available in adult or young adult options.

$33 AT CRATEJOY

Flu Care Package for You & Your Family: (what you need to have on hand)

You may want to add a few of these to your cart, because just one will start a family battle. This soft, cozy, throw blanket from HoMedics is a cordless, heated, massaging remedy for flu & cold season. Although it will come in handy on any chilly winter night (to use indoors or outdoors) you will be thrilled to have it when the chills come. it’s 50 x 60 inches, so you can share it on the sofa for movie night, but keep it all to yourself when the kids go to bed. This is a great get well gift for anyone— family, friends, teachers or yourself.

$100 AT HOMEDICS


This should already be plugged in and ready to go in each room of the house— especially in the bedrooms. This large capacity humidifier is the ticket to fighting stuffiness, congestion, dry skin, and itchy nose or throat. This ultra quiet, digital model can last for 30 hours when filled with 4 liters of water. It gets filled at the top (thank god) and turns itself off when the water runs out. A good humidifier can last for years, so invest in one (or more) and take advantage of the better air you and your family will instantly be breathing at home.

$99 AT AMAZON



Are you stocked up on Black Elderberry products? You and the kids can start taking this now to boost immunity ahead of flu & cold season. This is the new extra strength gummy for adults, and pair with the kids everyday gummy. You may already know Gaia Herbs for their best-selling Black Elderberry Syrup.

“Elderberry has been used for centuries in traditional recipes for immune health and provides powerful support to help keep your family healthy.” says Susan E. Hirsch, MS, CNS Formulation Manager at Gaia Herbs. These are organic, vegan and free of dairy/gluten/soy. “We are committed to transparency and developed the world’s first herb traceability program, meetyourherbs.com, which allows people to learn how the herbs were grown, harvested and extracted; and the tests their product underwent to validate its purity, integrity, and potency, so they can have full visibility as to what’s in our products.”

$18 AT GAIA HERBS


You’ve gotta have the kids’ meds ready before cold & flu season strikes, so go on and check your medicine cabinets now and throw out all of the expired bottles. All. Of. Them. Genexa Kids’ Pain & Fever medicine should be part of your arsenal along with their Kids’ Cough & Congestion, Kids’ Honey Cough Syrup, and Kids’ Immune Support formulas. The best part is these are all part of Genexa’s clean over-the-counter assortment which means they have the ingredients you need without serving your kids added dyes, allergens or parabens. It’s hard to believe this is something new, but in fact, it is!

$29.99 AT AMAZON

Aside from taking vitamins, drinking water, and getting eight hours of sleep, there’s also another way you can prevent the flu: Yoga!

Did you know that yoga helps build up your immune system? We know it’s good for breathing and for getting solid sleep (which in itself battles the cold and flu), but the actual exercise of yoga helps with respiratory system health. Amy Ippoliti, restorative yoga teacher at Glo shares that, “A balanced yoga practice will help you stretch the accessory muscles of your respiratory system which in turn leads to more vibrant lungs and a greater capacity to breathe deeply. This, combined with deep relaxation in poses like final relaxation pose (savasana) are highly supportive of a strong, resilient immune system.” PS. Savasana, also known as corpse pose, is basically lying on your back in full relax mode. (Yes, it’s our favorite pose.)

Now that you’ve got your flu essentials, check out our other mom-approved wellness products.

Although we only recommend picks we really love, we may earn a commission on purchases made through links from our site.

Wellness 60 Piece Tea Collection from Si…

$60

Raw Generation Immunity Boosting Bundle …

$160

Once Upon A Book Club

$33

Bunny James Boxes Get Well Soon Care Pac…

$37

Roam Homegrown Get Well Soon Gift Box

$38

The Sick Kit Co Box of Wellness

$45

Golden Gift Box Store Get Well Kit

$25.99

HoMedics Cordless Heated Massaging Throw…

$100

Premium Ultrasonic Cool and Warm Mist Hu…

$99

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Extra Streng…

$18

Genexa Kids’ Acetaminophin Pain & Fever …

$29.99

Patagonia Provisions Organic Soup & Brea…

$36

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