Gordan Lauc is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Zagreb, Director of the National Centre of Scientific Excellence in Personalised Healthcare, honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh and the Kings College London and member of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.
In 2017 he initiated the launch of the Human Glycome project and is one of its two co-directors. His research team is pioneering high throughput glycomic analysis and the application of glycan biomarkers in the field of precision medicine. By combining glycomic data with extensive genetic, epigenetic, biochemical and physiological data in a systems biology approach, they are trying to understand the role of glycans in normal physiology and disease.
Professor Lauc co-authored over 200 research articles that are cited over 5,000 times. He was PI and co-PI in four NIH, two FP6, seven FP7, six H2020, and three ESI Funds projects and coordinated five of them. In 2007 he founded Genos, a biotech company that is currently the global leader in high-throughput glycomics.
The original interview is 66 minutes. I reduced it to 15 minutes.
The greatest risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcome is biological age, more specifically immunological age.
GlycanAge does a direct-to-consumer test to reveal your immunological age. It is processed by Genos.
Example humidity meter.
Associated pre-print paper Effects of environmental factors on severity and mortality of COVID-19.
Transcript of Clips
Each separate clip transcribed and time-stamped below.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 00:00
We can look at Australia. Australia has the same tendency of doing many tests, of doing the same type of essays. But what we see here, we see that the mortality is actually higher now than what it was in April and May. And do not forget Australia has the reverse seasons. So they have winter now. And also in Chile, we see that the mortality is tracking the number of cases.
So what we see in Europe, it’s not just casedemics. It’s not just counting people who are not actually ill. There is a biological difference between virus here and virus here. And we know that the virus did not change. So the sequence of viruses are same, genetics of viruses are same. There are no mutations. It had to be something else which we believe is the weather.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 00:56
These people are actually in contact with virus. They have virus in the nose, but they’re not ill. They do not have COVID-19. They only have a virus in the nose.
And what I believe underlies these differences, which we are seeing, is the simple fact that COVID is a respiratory, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus, it disappears in summer, like all other respiratory viruses. All other coronaviruses disappear in April, late April, come back in December.
Influenza behaves the same. Some other respiratory viruses.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 01:38
So respiratory viruses can also be found in the summer like what we are seeing here, but we don’t see [volumes of] people dying from respiratory viruses in the summer, neither from SARS-CoV-2, nor from influenza.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 01:54
These do the same thing. They’re catching the viruses. And then, the flow of mucus is taking them away from our airways and from our lungs. And this is how humans and all other animals survive viral infections. They trap viruses.
They take them away majority of time and in most of situations, but this mannerism evolved before we invented heating. Heating exists for the maybe couple of hundreds of years, or maybe a little bit longer that people are using heating to make their homes warm in the winter.
It is nice to have a warm home in the winter. But the problem with that is that you’re losing humidity because humidity or the amount of water, which can be dissolved in the air, is highly dependent on temperature. If the temperature is low, only a small amount of water can be dissolved in the air. So if it’s the winter and you look outside and you see it’s raining and you think, oh, so humid, you open the window. And this humid outside air comes in, but then it gets heated.
And the amount of water, which is a hundred percent humidity at 5 or 10 degrees, is a very low humidity at 25 degrees. So this air, when you warm it up in your room becomes a very dry air. And when the air is dry, it’s taking water from the surfaces. And one of these surfaces is our airways.
So you dry your airways, you breed the dry air. And the effect is same. Like this dragon destroying the big wall in the Game of Thrones. You’re making holes in your key protection system. And then the viruses can come in. And this is one of the basic mechanisms why respiratory viruses appear in winter and then disappear in summer.
Or they disappear in a tropical regions where there’s a high humidity.
October 11, 2020
” the flow of mucus is taking them away from our airways and from our lungs. And this is how humans and all other animals survive viral infections. They trap viruses.”
And initial studies suggested that SARS-CoV-2 is a typical seasonal virus until there was so much PCR being done.
Then there were tens of thousands of cases in Singapore and they said, no virus is spreading also in Singapore. This is not a seasonal virus. But then you look, and there is, I don’t know, 24, 25 people who died in Singapore. So I say, yes, this is a seasonal virus. It is spreading, but it is not killing.
It enters your nose, stays in your nose, cannot enter the lung. There’s no pneumonia, you’re not dying. So this is molecular biology. And the question was, how can we prove this in this COVID pandemics? Because number of infected people, number of dead people, this is completely uncomparable between countries, but also within countries in a different time. So this is so unreliable that you cannot do any real analysis of the data of infected people and people who die.
So we said, okay, let’s look at people who are already infected, who are hospitalized, and see what had happened with them depending on a time when they got ill. And the first big data set we got from the hospital Del Mar in Barcelona.
And these are on this graph. You can see red dots. Green dots are people who survived. The yellow dots are people who died. This is the number of days they stayed in the hospital and this is when they were accepted.
And then you see that with the spring coming on, and this is Barcelona, so already in April it’s very nice weather, people were saying the hospital very short, nobody was dying. People were dying mostly here.
And then when you look at different parameters of severity, which will look like the need to go to intensive care, the need for mechanical ventilation, mortality risk, they’re all falling virtually to zero when the spring came in. This is one hospital. There are many different reasons. Maybe physicians are so smarter now than what they were two months ago. Maybe the patients were younger. You cannot make conclusion on one hospital.
But then we went to other hospitals and checked Bergamo, Coburg, Milano, Nottingham, Warsaw, Zagreb. And in all these hospitals, we were seeing the same thing.
And the meta analysis showed that the odds ratio for surviving was increasing by zero, by approximately 2% for every day. So if you were accepted to the hospital, 10 days later, approximately, it’s multiplying, it’s not adding, at approximately 20% your chances would be better. And with few months, the mortality risk decreased between five and ten fold.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 07:21
So of course, the first question is exactly what you asked. Is it that we’re now seeing younger patients and then the old patients already died out and the age did not change. So in the period, we were tracking the age of patients more or less the same, actually even increasing a bit in Zagreb. So it is not that we were having old patients here and then young patients here.
So age was not a factor in this equation. What we is one of the factors – I agree completely with you, this is not the only factor – but definitely temperature was something which stayed significant.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 08:01
That the coronaviruses are seasonal, that other respiratory viruses are seasonal. This is for example, 10 years of influenza in, I believe New York and Texas, and humidity infections.
Humidity goes up, influenza goes down, humidity goes down, influenza goes up. So respiratory viruses are seasonal and the easiest way to think about it is, you know, you get the hydrometer. These are the small instruments which measure humidity. Actually, I have one here. This is one euro investment. On AliExpress, you pay one euro and you get this tiny little machine, with batteries included, and you can check your humidity. And now I have 52 [percent], which is good.
And if I go below 40 [percent], I should do something. I should return humidity to my room, especially if I sleep. A
And there are some suggestions from this paper, from this big annual review, this is not from my paper. This is from end of year review by [inaudible] what you should do to try to avoid the risk of respiratory infections.
And the final question then is, what will happen in winter. And I think the only answer which anybody can say is that we do not know. Because there are two answers. One what we see in Australia, the disease will be more severe in winter. So if you get infected in winter, you are more likely to get pneumonia than if you’re infected in summer. Your mucosas are not working properly. Your immunity’s lower, vitamin D, whatever. This is worse.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 9:53
Here [Croatia] when we were opening the country, there was a panic. The virus will come, we’ll all get killed. This did not happen. We opened the schools. This did not happen. We have at the moment, total of 24 patients on ventilators, which is we have, I think over 800 ventilators. So our healthcare system is not overwhelmed. The country is functioning.
More or less, everything is still open. In the summer, we had normal summer. We had nightclubs open. And I hope that we also got many people who actually developed immunity in this period, and that we will not be hit by this potential winter wave, which might be more deadly. This is more or less my story.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 10:38
The median age of people who died is higher than the life expectancy. So we really had mostly old people dying.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 10:52
Because, you know, lockdowns actually work when there is a small number of cases. Lockdowns don’t work when there is a large number of cases. If you look at Chile, Chile has this kind of military grade lockdown for, I think, months now. And they still have 1500 to 2000 cases a day.
October 11, 2020
” So you dry your airways, you breed the dry air… You’re making holes in your key protection system. And then the viruses can come in. And this is one of the basic mechanisms why respiratory viruses appear in winter and then disappear in summer.”
So you cannot stop a virus when it is in the population. In the New Zealand situation, where there’s really a limited number of people, they tracked them, they caught them, they eliminated the virus, but they will have to do it over and over again.
And then there were things like Ebola, SARS diseases, which are really deadly. And then they learned, okay, test, trace, isolate. And this is what killed all previous pandemics. And this really works for Ebola, for SARS 1, this works. The problem is when the SARS-CoV-2 came, this was not a deadly virus. This was a virus which was killing a small number of people.
Gordan Lauc ➝ 12:03
And I think most of Europe was, at least big part of Eastern Europe, was saved by the spring. When you say about the minorities and the pollution and everything else, LA is worse than New York..And LA did not have the same situation.
Why? Because LA had a different temperature when it came in.
So the reason I’m talking so much about humidity is that this is the only thing which is so easy to fix. You know, you take this tiny little thing, check the humidity, say, “Oh, it’s 30%”. Take a kettle of water, boil a liter of water, and you’re fine. Or buy a fancy humidifier. Or just put wet towels over heating bodies. Whatever.
This is something each of us could do, which will help. It will not be universal solution, but it will not harm.
Ivor Cummins ➝ 13:07
How is it the authorities around the world, not Croatia where you’re advising, but just across the world. None of them were interested in mitigating and limiting impacts next winter, or even during the peak, when you could address metabolic health, humidity. Why do they just not seem to be interested? They were only interested in lockdowns. That seemed to be the only science that dominated every conversation.
So the way our prime minister explained this to me is that all of his colleagues in Europe, they have to show to their voters that they’re really trying hard to protect them. They closed the borders. They, you know, they banned people from some countries to come in. So they have to be the good guys, protecting people in their country from danger.
October 11, 2020
“And then they learned, okay, test, trace, isolate. And this is what killed all previous pandemics. And this really works for Ebola, for SARS 1, this works.
The problem is when the SARS-CoV-2 came, this was not a deadly virus. This was a virus which was killing a small number of people.”
And unfortunately, the lockdown narrative is the strongest in the media. So countries, which were not doing lockdown, like Sweden, they were being torn apart. And actually they did not have a politics of infecting everybody.
They just didn’t have… They have recommendations and people in Sweden follow recommendations. So they were also doing social distancing, which is normal for Sweden. I know for example, in Croatia, every month we diagnose 2000 new cases of cancer, which we did not do for two months because of the lockdown.
Everything was shut down. Hospitals were shut down. So we have 4,000 people who will get much more severe cancer because of the lockdown.
Ivor Cummins ➝ 15:03
You know, because the people just reacting like as per the WHO 2019 pandemic guidelines says, no lockdowns, no masks. It’s written there in black and white, you know? So Sweden just followed the 2019 – and before, all of history – guidelines, even from the WHO, it looks like we got the authoritarian stuff actually from China.
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Source: ‘Ep98 Be Safe Heading into this Viral Winter – All Explained Here!’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpF7EIkgiZY (Copyright Ivor Cummins, October 11, 2020 – Permission Obtained)