Where evolution of coronavirus takes place: guano and stainless steel

May 18th, 2020

BST* Executive summary prepared by Marina T. Botana1 and Raymond C. Valentine2

1 São Paulo, SP, 04116-240, Brazil; m.botana23@gmail.com ; +55-11-97283-7799

2 Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA; ray@ecowizards.com ; +1-802-275-2980

BST believes that the famous “Bat lady of China”, Dr. Shi Zhengli, is correct in saying that coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 evolve in bat caves1,2 and perhaps in their mimics (shown below).

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Notice that all the places shown above present mostly stainless steel or metal derived surfaces. Not coincidently, metals are the type of surface on which viral particles persist active for longer periods, especially on steel3.


Persistence of coronaviruses on different types of inanimate surfaces (from Kampf et al., 20203)

The field hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients are mostly being built up with steel containers everywhere. Even their insides present lots of metal derived surfaces. Again, not coincidentally, in the cities where the number of cases is the greatest, the most severe cases and the biggest death numbers are from field hospitals. Hygiene and infrastructure conditions must be considered for this analysis, but BST believes that the presence of metal surfaces is strongly related to the high viral load and persistence of active viral particles, a constant threat for patients, nurses and doctors inside these facilities. The interior of Navy ships and aircraft carriers are also metal and since the beginning of this pandemic they are holding many severe cases4 and even instances in which people are being reinfected5.


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The affinity between the membranes of pathogens and metal surfaces is not new in the literature6, though it has never been justified. BST believes that mini drops of virus-laden particles are always surrounded by mucus, which might have chelated trace metals and, as a result, might be transformed into biological semiconductors. Metal derived plates can be easily electrified by changes in environmental conditions and can act as electrical conductors (in this case, of very tiny amounts of electricity). We propose that SARS-CoV-2 particles might feed on electrified metal surfaces. Our model explaining this mechanism, as well as the affinity between lipid virus membranes and metal surfaces will soon be presented in our blog.



References:

1 - WANG, Ning et al. Serological evidence of bat SARS-related coronavirus infection in humans, China. Virologica Sinica, v. 33, n. 1, p. 104-107, 2018.


2 - CUI, Jie; LI, Fang; SHI, Zheng-Li. Origin and evolution of pathogenic coronaviruses. Nature reviews Microbiology, v. 17, n. 3, p. 181-192, 2019.


3 - KAMPF, Günter et al. Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and its inactivation with biocidal agents. Journal of Hospital Infection, 2020.



4 – “The New York Times” Journal (May 13th) – “Aircraft carrier fought the virus for weeks. Now it’s back aboard”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/us/politics/coronavirus-navy-theodore-roosevelt.html


5 - “The New York Times” Journal (May 15th) – “Sailors on the sidelined carrier get virus for second time”

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/05/15/us/politics/ap-us-virus-outbreak-aircraft-carrier.html


6 - CAMPBELL, Sheelagh A.; CAMPBELL, N.; WALSH, Frank C. (Ed.). Developments in marine corrosion. Elsevier, 1998.