Dr Knut Wittkowski is a German epidemiologist working in New York in the field of Drug Development. He has worked at various universities in Germany, the Middle East, and the US. He is currently part of an international group of scientists called "Plan B". The strategic goal of this group is to develop systematic strategies for achieving sustainable solutions against COVID-19 and future global threats to the public health.
This group also includes geneticist Dr Kenneth Day of California, James Lundeen, a medical doctor of Ohio, German vaccinologist Dr Ingo Fricke, a British doctor and online podcast creator Dr Philip McMillan, and Nicci Eisenhauer, President and cofounder of American Initiatives for Military Support.
- Dr Wittkowski, how would you comment on the controversial results of the world's largest vaccination effort in Israel? Above 75% are vaccinated, but infections and mortality remain high and trends are similar to neighboring Lebanon, where vaccination has not started, yet - what are the reasons?
- The vaccines, which were developed for the previous "Wuhan/Milano" strain seem not to work well for the new strains that evolved under the lockdowns to become resistant against "Wuhan/Milano" antibodies. South-Africa has already stopped some vaccination.
- Are there any nutritional of pharmacological interventions that can help at different stages of the COVID-19 disease?
- With very few exceptions (Hepatitis C is one) we don't have good treatments against virus diseases and COVID is no exception. But, as you mentioned, nutrition can help.
- How? Are there foods, and vitamins or supplements that could be taken during the epidemic?
- The best time to reduce the severity of a virus disease is to catch it before symptoms develop. Having enough Vitamin D may help, but having more of it doesn't necessarily help more and the precise mechanism of action (MoA) is not known.
As another nutritional strategy, intermittent fasting has been helpful in reducing the severity of virus diseases. Beta-cyclodextrin (bCD, a special fiber made naturally by bacteria) was also effective, but scavenging serum cholesterol, it's presumed MoA, can cause permanent hearing loss.
- What can be done?
- Using a computational biostatistics approach, which my group developed over 20 years at The Rockefeller University, we have found that the bCD's MoA was not to scavenge cholesterol, but the smaller phospholipids (PLs), for which the smaller alpha-CD (without cholesterol-related ototoxicity) is more specific. Reducing serum PLs prevents viruses from "hijacking" endocytosis (entry into cells) to get replicated. With fewer viruses being created and fewer cells becoming infected during the one-week incubation period, disease severity is diminished and, thus, hospitalizations and deaths are prevented. aCD already has an EU-approved health claim to reduce pre-diabetis, COVID comorbidity.
- How is it used?
- The last hurdle to overcome was that CDs are typically not absorbed from the intestine, so they need to be given by overnight intravenous infusion. We combined aCD with another natural product (found in coconut oil and milk) to get it absorbed from the intestine so that it can be applied orally, as a nutritional supplement/medical food.
We are now looking for a partner company to bring this "fasting mimetic" (pat. pend.) to the market, likely in combination with vitamin D, as a more broadly effective strategy to complement vaccines.
- Thank you very much, Dr Wittkowski.
For readers who might be interested in additional information, here's a related non-scientific article.