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Silver and gold

Mixed message of hope and fear relating to COVID-19 treatments

By Karen Kier, Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

Remember Silver and Gold sung by Burl Ives in the 1964 movie Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a Christmas classic widely known by many different generations? In 2005, Silver and Gold was included on the Disney Princess Christmas Album. Many may be familiar with Dolly Parton’s Silver and Gold released in 1991 with the lyric “And time can’t be brought back with silver and gold.” This line is particularly poetic during the pandemic. Grammy-award winning gospel artist Kirk Franklin released a song titled Silver and Gold in 1993. His lyrics included the line, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.” 

You might be wondering how this relates to COVID-19? There is a mixed message of hope and fear relating to COVID-19 treatments. There is more misinformation that is dangerous coming from the web. With case numbers rising, many are looking for treatment and prevention options for COVID-19.

The fear is about misinformation on colloidal silver that is extremely dangerous. In 1999, the FDA ruled colloidal silver products to be unsafe and that silver has no known function in the body. Colloidal silver can cause a permanent bluish color to the skin known as argyria and can cause brain dysfunction. This danger applies to taking colloidal silver by mouth or inhaling it into the lungs. The National Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine lists colloidal silver as dangerous. Findlay physician, Dr. Bruce Bouts, is an expert on the dangers of colloidal silver and has published a picture of a patient with permanent skin damage in the New England Journal of Medicine. No scientific studies have been published that show a benefit of colloidal silver for COVID-19 or for influenza (flu). For more information and pictures of argyria, please follow this link,

The hope is in the nose, which is a complex organ that helps clean air before it reaches the throat and lungs. Since SARS-CoV-2 is transferred by air droplets, the nasal passages serve as the major source of infection. The omicron variant has a higher rate of transmission because of its strong binding to the nasal ACE2 receptors. The spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 acts like a key that fits into the lock (ACE2 receptor). Hence, the nose has become an area of intense research.  

A study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by Cleveland Clinic researchers found intranasal steroids may provide protection from serious illness with COVID-19. The study looked at 72,147 adult patients who tested positive for COVID-19 between 2020 and spring of 2021. Of those patients, over 10,000 had a prescription for a nasal steroid spray they used chronically to manage allergies prior to COVID-19.  In the long-term nasal steroid group, the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 decreased by 22% compared to those who did not use nasal steroids. The data revealed a 23% decrease in ICU admission and a 24% decrease in death for those on nasal steroids. The researchers believe that the nasal steroid before a COVID-19 infection may disrupt the virus’s ability to attach to the ACE2, thereby inhibiting the key in the lock. This was a retrospective study of patients on long-term nasal steroids and not a study showing benefit once infected with COVID-19. Three nasal steroids are available without a prescription including budesonide (Rhinocort®), triamcinolone (Nasacort®), and fluticasone (Flonase).  

Other studies are evaluating nasal products designed to disrupt the lock and key theory for COVID-19.  Salvacion USA is developing technology with the National Cancer Institute for a physical barrier to inhibit attachment of SARS-CoV-2 to the nasal passages. The product has been studied in the laboratory and the company has submitted information to the FDA for potential emergency use. Amcyte Pharma has developed an algae-derived nasal spray that is being used in Argentina for prevention of the common cold but is now being studied for COVID-19. IGM Biosciences is evaluating a nasal immunoglobulin M antibody for both treatment and prevention of COVID-19 to neutralize the virus. Marinomed Biotech is evaluating a red seaweed-derived Carragelose nasal spray that is approved in Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia to form a physical barrier against the virus. The Canadian company SaNOtize has developed a nitric oxide nasal spray available in pharmacies in Israel. In studies, the product was able to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in patients.  

Globally, researchers are testing a nasally inhaled COVID-19 vaccine. Researchers at Stanford Medicine in the United States are leading the efforts to design a nasal vaccine that stops the virus in the nose! This nasal vaccine would utilize gold nanoparticles to deliver harmless, virus-mimicking DNA that would result in antibodies to fight the virus. The researchers used gold nanoparticle technology they had been developing to treat brain tumors, but in the spring of 2020 their focus changed to COVID-19. The gold nanoparticles provide some hope for COVID-19 research.

Feel free to call the ONU HealthWise Pharmacy at 419-772-3784 for the science on COVID-19. ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 and flu vaccines Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call the pharmacy for an appointment for other time slots. The ONU HealthWise pharmacy offers Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), as well as flu shots and high-dose flu vaccines. Pediatric Pfizer vaccines (5 to 11-years) are available by appointment through the state Vaccine Management Solution (VMS) system.