The following are excerpts from an original article, which was published in the Swiss magazine Weltwoche (World Week) on June 10th in German and translated by Back to Reason. The original author, Beda M Stadler is the former director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Bern, a biologist and professor emeritus. Stadler is an important medical professional in Switzerland, he also likes to use provoking language, which should not deter you from the extremely important points he makes.
This article is about Switzerland and it does not suggest that the situation is exactly the same globally. Back to Reason is advocating for local measures according to local situations and advocating for looking at real data rather than abstract models.
The full article can be found at https://medium.com/@vernunftundrichtigkeit/coronavirus-why-everyone-was-wrong-fce6db5ba809
Here a succinct and brief summary, especially for the immunity deniers, of how humans are attacked by germs and how we react to them: If there are pathogenic viruses in our environment, then all humans — whether immune or not — are attacked by this virus. If someone is immune, the battle with the virus begins. First we try to prevent the virus from binding to our own cells with the help of antibodies. This normally works only partially, not all are blocked and some viruses will attach to the appropriate cells. That doesn’t need to lead to symptoms, but it’s also not a disease. Because the second guard of the immune system is now called into action. That’s the above mentioned T-cells, white blood cells, which can determine from the outside in which other cells the virus is now hiding to multiply. These cells, which are now incubating the virus, are searched throughout the entire body and killed by the T-cells until the last virus is dead.
So if we do a PCR corona test on an immune person, it is not a virus that is detected, but a small shattered part of the viral genome. The test comes back positive for as long as there are tiny shattered parts of the virus left. Correct: Even if the infectious viruses are long dead, a corona test can come back positive, because the PCR method multiplies even a tiny fraction of the viral genetic material enough [to be detected]. That’s exactly what happened, when there was the global news, even shared by the WHO, that 200 Koreans who already went through Covid-19 were infected a second time and that there was therefore probably no immunity against this virus. The explanation of what really happened and an apology came only later, when it was clear that the immune Koreans were perfectly healthy and only had a short battle with the virus. The crux was that the virus debris registered with the overly sensitive test and therefore came back as “positive”. It is likely that a large number of the daily reported infection numbers are purely due to viral debris.
The PCR test with its extreme sensitivity was initially perfect to find out where the virus could be. But this test can not identify whether the virus is still alive, i.e. still infectious. Unfortunately, this also led some virologists to equate the strength of a test result with viral load, i.e. the amount of virus someone can breathe out. Luckily, our day care centres stayed open nonetheless. Since German virologist missed that part, because, out of principle, they do not look at what other countries are doing, even if other countries’ case numbers are falling more rapidly.
What does this all mean in real life? The extremely long incubation time of two to 14 days — and reports of 22 to 27 days — should wake up any immunologist. As well as the claim that most patients would no longer secrete the virus after five days. Both [claims] in turn actually lead to the conclusion that there is — sort of in the background — a base immunity that contorts the events, compared to an expected cycle [of a viral infection] — i.e. leads to a long incubation period and quick immunity. This immunity also seems to be the problem for patients with a severe course of the disease. Our antibody titre, i.e. the accuracy of our defence system, is reduced the older we get. But also people with a bad diet or who are malnourished may have a weakened immune system, which is why this virus does not only reveal the medical problems of a country, but also social issues.
If an infected person does not have enough antibodies, i.e. a weak immune response, the virus slowly spreads out across the entire body. Now that there are not enough antibodies, there is only the second, supporting leg of our immune response left: The T-cells begin to attack the virus-infested cells all over the body. This can lead to an exaggerated immune response, basically to a massive slaughter; this is called a Cytokine Storm. Very rarely this can also happen in small children, in that case called Kawasaki Syndrome. This very rare occurrence in children was also used in our country to stoke panic. It’s interesting, however, that this syndrome is very easily cured. The [affected] children get antibodies from healthy blood donors, i.e. people who went through coronavirus colds. This means that the hushed-up [supposedly non-existent] immunity in the population is in fact used therapeutically.
To get on top of the pandemic, we need a strategy merely concentrating on the protection of at-risk people over 65 (and immune compromised people). If that’s the opinion of a top expert, a second lockdown is simply a no-go.
In winter, when the flu and other colds make the rounds again (Northern Hemisphere), we can then go back to kissing each other a little less, and we should wash our hands even without a virus present. And people who’ll get sick nonetheless can then don their masks to show others what they have learned from this pandemic. And if we still haven’t learned to protect our at-risk groups, we’ll have to wait for a vaccine that will hopefully also be effective in at-risk people.