Dr. Rick Sharpee is Director of Science and Nutrition at NOW Health Group. He is responsible for clinical testing for safety and effectiveness, international registrations and technical support for all dietary supplement products.
He received his B.S degree in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, his M.S. in Microbiology and Immunology from Miami University. And his Ph.D. in Microbiology (Virology) from University of Nebraska. He has over 30 years of broad-based experience in infectious disease research, innovative “industry-first” product development, GMP manufacturing and technical market support in the dietary supplement, animal health and pharmaceutical industries. Dr. Sharpee was named a “Top 100 innovator” for the development of the world’s first vaccine for feline leukemia. He is a co-discoverer of rotavirus and the discoverer of coronavirus in cattle.
Questions for Dr. Sharpee:
• What is your background with the coronavirus?• Is the coronavirus more dangerous than the regular flu?• Who is at more risk for contracting it?• If someone suspects they may have contracted it or have been exposed to it, what is the protocol they should follow?• How is the disease diagnosed?• Is there anything that can be taken to prevent or cure the coronavirus?• How is the dietary supplement industry being affected by this and what, if anything, can we can do to safeguard our health?
For more detailed responses and additional insights from Dr. Sharpee, watch this webinar:
Q: What is your background with the coronavirus?
A: I worked on the discovery and characterization of the bovine (cattle) coronavirus as part of the requirements for creating original research for the PhD degree in Microbiology at the Univ. of Nebraska. About this same time I published an article in “Lancet” (a premier medical journal) predicting coronaviruses in humans and horses and further proposed that corona viruses could be classified into 2 subgroups based on acid sensitizing for the respiratory form and acid resistance for the enteric form.
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Q: Is the coronavirus more dangerous than the regular flu?
A: Coronavirus in humans is a severe upper respiratory tract disease similar to Flu but has been shown to be more invasive and deadly in humans due to its ability to rapidly multiply and spread in lung tissue destroying the cells that line the lungs thereby destroying the ability of the lung to absorb oxygen. The patient becomes starved for oxygen and essentially dies from asphyxiation. It’s also important to note that this is not the same virus that is responsible for SARS (Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that first appeared in the early 2000’s. Additionally it has been suggested this virus is less severe than SARS since mortality rates are around 2% while SARS is near 14-15%.
The outbreak is believed to have begun in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China. The virus is readily transmitted from person to person, scientists believe. But how lethal the virus is and whether it can be contained is unclear.
Q: Who is at more risk for contracting it?
A: Anyone exposed to someone who is demonstrating symptoms of the disease which are similar to the symptoms of cold and Flu and pneumonia. But anyone who has a compromised immune system, the very young and very old. And especially anyone living and working in the region of China (city of Wuhan) where the epidemic broke out.
Symptoms are similar to Cold & Flu making clinical diagnosis difficult. These include: fever, cough, runny nose, sinus congestion and nasal discharge, sore throat.
World health authorities now have a name for this novel coronavirus illness, (COVID-19).
Q: If someone suspects they may have contracted it or have been exposed to it, what is the protocol they should follow?
A: Since there is currently no vaccine to prevent the disease, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
Q: How is the disease diagnosed?
A: CDC has a two-phase approach for serology testing, using two screening tests and one confirmatory test to detect antibodies to the virus.
Q: Is there anything that can be taken to prevent or cure the coronavirus?
A: There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for this virus infection. People infected should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
People who think they may have been exposed should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Q: You stated earlier that there is currently no vaccine or cure for coronavirus. Tell us how the dietary supplement industry is being affected by this and what, if anything, we can do to safeguard our health.
A: Supplements are not drugs so supplement companies should not be making any claims that their product can cure or prevent any disease, including the coronavirus.
This is a real concern for the supplement industry and especially for companies who are trying to do the right thing. And we need to be certain the public understands the risk they take by consuming these products in the hope of a cure. It destroys the integrity of the whole industry by a few bad companies trying to make a fast buck.
Supplements are meant to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle, and can support overall health and wellness and help to fill in nutrition gaps. Like many body systems, our immune system becomes less efficient as we age due to a variety of factors such as everyday stress, a poor diet, lifestyle choices, environmental pollutants and more. In order to continually operate at peak efficiency your immune system needs a variety of nutrients and other healthful substances.
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