COVID 19, FLU, VARIANTS, AND FLORONA – THE COMPLIMENTARY ROLE OF POLYPHENOLS

It looks like we are in for a long haul with coronavirus. I picked some information from international news feeds, e.g. Business insider and the Economic times (ET). On December 31, 2021, Israel announced the first case of Florona disease. This is a double-infection of the COVID-19 and influenza (flu). It is not a newly discovered disease and it caused by different viruses. When the viruses of both flu and Coronavirus are present in a body at the same time, it is regarded as Florona disease. This occurred in the midst of fears of Omicron taking over the Delta variant of COVID-19. COVID-19 and influenza (flu) are both different infectious respiratory diseases and they share some similar symptoms.

Israel’s Florona disease was first identified in a woman who went into labour on December 30, 2021 in Israel and was also not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Some experts have also flagged Delmicron, a combination of Delta and Omicron variants. It is possible that both the strains (Delta and Omicron) can swap genes and trigger a more dangerous variant (ET Online Jan 02, 2022). The ET continues – the flu season is never any fun and with the emergence of the coronavirus, this development makes it more stressful- a double disaster.

Florona is a condition when a patient contracts both the COVID-19 virus and influenza. According to health experts familiar with the new developments, a person either contracts the COVID-19 infection first or then contracts the influenza virus. The condition can be called a “double infection” or “co-infection”. Florona may indicate a major breakdown of the immune system, since it is being simultaneously attacked.

Unlike Alpha, Beta, Delta, Omicron and others, florona is not a mutant variant of coronavirus. It is a case of double respiratory infection caused by COVID-19 and influenza pathogens. When the viruses of these two infections are present at the same time in the body, the condition is referred to as florona.

The World Health Organization notes that the situation of Florona can be prevented by inoculating vaccines for both influenza and COVID-19.

Florona is indicative of a severe lapse in the immune system because two viruses are infecting the human body simultaneously.

Earlier, there were unconfirmed reports about the detection of Delmicron, which, again, is not a new variant. In Europe and the US, there have been cases where SARS-CoV-2 variants Delta and Omicron attack at the same time.

So far, the World Health Organization (WHO) has named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron as variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2.

Both COVID-19 and influenza cause infection in the respiratory system leading to more or less the same symptoms. As per the World Health Organization (WHO) an individual can suffer from both infections at the same time and share identical symptoms like sore throat, cough, runny nose, fever, headaches and fatigue. The severity of the condition varies from person to person. Some may have mild symptoms, while others may experience severe signs. But both conditions can be fatal if not treated on time. In COVID a person may experience loss of taste and smell, which is not associated with flu. Even the post-infection complications witnessed in the case of COVID are missing when infected by the influenza virus.

Being the disease of the upper respiratory system, both flu and COVID are transmitted through aerosol particles contaminated with the virus released by an infected person while coughing, speaking or sneezing. When a healthy person breathes the air or touches the surface contaminated with the virus, the pathogens enter the respiratory system where it starts multiplying. It usually takes 2 to 10 days for the symptoms to appear after being infected with the virus. Also, the risk of spreading the virus to others is greater during the initial days.

With a drop in the temperature (winter season), the risk of influenza or flu has spiked, raising concern over double respiratory infection. Experts are worried about the recent dual infections because last year during the pandemic, no such cases were reported. Some attribute it to the strict COVID norm and lockdown imposed in different parts of the world last year. Thelax on the part of people on observance of the COVID-19 protocols could account for the incidence of dual infections of flu and COVID-19 at this time of the year.

COVID-19 in itself is not easy on our body. It affects multiple organs at one time and can even cause grave and long-term damage to them. In such a situation, if a person developed both infections, it would be taxing for the body to fight two different viruses. Besides, it is also complex to detect the two conditions due to overlapping symptoms, which can easily delay the treatment process. The long term complications of florona are not clear now. Till then it is better to follow coronavirus related norms and get the COVID and flu vaccines at the earliest (TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Last updated on -Jan 3, 2022).

There is ample evidence on the great potential of polyphenols against different viruses that cause widespread health problems- coronaviruses, influenza, herpes simplex, dengue fever, and rotavirus, among others. There is a between antiviral and antioxidant activities that can contribute to the protection of cells and tissues of the human body (Montenegro-Landivar et al. Polyphenols and their potential role to fight viral diseases: An overview. Science of The Total EnvironmentVolume 801, 20 December 2021, 149719.

Viral infection disrupts the defensive antioxidant mechanism of the human body, bringing inflammation and oxidative damage. This imbalance can be caused by various viruses (e.g., SARS-CoV-2, HIV, influenza virus) and leads to oxidative stress and helps the virus life cycle and eventually causes cell death. The use of polyphenols with antiviral and antioxidant activities could be an alternative to prevent the onset of infection or development of viral disease.

Appropriate nutrition and well-balanced diet are vital to be healthier with stronger immune systems and lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. Therefore, nutrition intervention and therapy need to be considered as an integral part of the approach to COVID-19 infection. There is an inverse association between the risk of chronic human diseases and the consumption of polyphenol rich diet.  The antiviral effect of polyphenols is not significantly affected by viral mutations due to their binding capacity to the viral envelope lipids or sugar moieties. There is ample evidence that lung damage and multiple organ failure in COVID-19 result from systemic hyper-inflammation. The use of anti-inflammatory agents is part and parcel of the management of COVID-19 patients. The proven anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols is another advantage in this regard. Flavonoids have wide range of biological effects, including anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory activities. Flavonoidshave demonstrated anti-viral and immunomodulatory activities against coronaviruses.

The well-known capacity of flavonoids to regulate anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory responses underscores their potential importance also in the treatment of COVID-19 (Liskova et al. Flavonoids against the SARS-CoV-2 induced inflammatory storm. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 138 (2021) 111430. Flavanol-rich cocoa has notable anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anti-oxidant effects.

BY DR. EDWARD O. AMPORFUL

CHIEF PHARMACIST

COCOA CLINIC

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