NBC doctor who claimed to have caught the virus on an airplane through his eyeball says he NEVER had it
A television doctor who thought he contracted the coronavirus through his eyes on an airplane and had to fight for his life in the hospital tested negative for COVID-19, he confirmed.
Dr. Joseph Fair, an infectious disease expert who has studied deadly viruses throughout his life, including Ebola, documented his struggles on social media and on NBC, where he works as a contributor.
The 42-year-old said he was seriously ill with something, but it wasn’t COVID-19.
His illness “remains an undiagnosed mystery,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Dr. Joseph Fair, pictured on June 17, flew to New Orleans on April 24 when he believed he was infected
On Tuesday, he tweeted that his illness was not caused by COVID-19
“I had numerous COVID symptoms, was hospitalized in a COVID ward, and was treated for COVID-related comorbidities, despite being tested negative with a nasal swab,” he said.
“I was seriously ill for 2 weeks, 4 days in critical condition, resulting in pneumonia, diffuse lung injury, and 18 pounds of weight loss.”
He said he would now undergo a second antibody test to confirm the results and work with other specialists to determine the source of his infection.
His doctor ordered another antibody test from another manufacturer to confirm the negative result.
The infectious disease expert said he was incredibly ill in May with an unknown condition
Fair will also meet another pulmonologist and tropical medicine doctor for spending time in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“My path forward is a 2nd AB test and follow-up with a pulmonologist and tropical medicine specialist in an effort to determine what made me so sick,” he said.
Fair thinks he contracted an illness on a plane to New Orleans on April 24.
He said he had taken every precaution – wearing a mask and gloves, wiping the area around him – but passengers were being “wrapped up like sardines.”
“Instinctively, I probably should have gotten off the flight when I saw that,” he told NBC’s Today.
He concluded that he had contracted a virus through his eyes.
“Of course you can still get it through your eyes,” he said.
Fair announced that he was in the hospital on May 13 and tweeted that he thought it was COVID-19
Fair spoke to the Today show from his hospital bed on May 14 and described his ordeal
The 42-year-old was hospitalized in a critical condition and relied on oxygen
CORONAVIRUS INFECTION THROUGH THE EYES
Scientists have claimed that the coronavirus can enter the body through the eyes after discovering that it contains a protein used by the infection to bind to cells.
A team led by Lingli Zhou of the Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, analyzed ten human eyes after slaughtering people who did not die of COVID-19 for the expression of ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) .
They found that the eyes produce ACE-2, making them a target for the virus.
Scientists have claimed that the coronavirus can enter the body through the eyes after discovering that it contains a protein used by the infection to bind to cells. Pictured: health worker in Ukraine
Scientists discovered that ACE-2 was expressed in the cornea (A and B, enlarged in C) and the limbus (E, enlarged in F), the boundary between the cornea and the whites of the eye
ACE-2 is considered to be the access point for the virus. The spiky surface binds to the receptors and from there infects the cell and replicates.
The coronavirus – scientifically called SARS-CoV-2 – locks onto ACE-2 receptors, known as the ‘gateway’ to cells in the body.
These receptors are found in the airways and lungs, where the virus first infiltrates cells and other organs.
ACE-2 receptors have a shape that matches the outside of the coronavirus, effectively giving it a passage to the bloodstream, scientists say
It is suggested that someone with more ACE-2 receptors may be more sensitive to a large viral load – the first infectious dose of a virus – entering their bloodstream.
The team also looked for TMPRSS2, an enzyme that aids virus penetration after binding of the viral peak protein to ACE2.
ACE2 and TMPRSS2 must both be in the same cell for the virus to replicate effectively.
Dr. Zhou noted that viral particles can be found in tears that “can lead to transmission to other individuals.”
It means that if drops from an infected person’s sneezing or coughing hit the surface of the eye, the virus could infiltrate cells there.
It may explain why 30% of patients have had conjunctivitis – an eye infection that makes it red and infected.
“You know, that’s one of the three known ways to get this infection that we don’t pay much attention to. We tend to focus on the nose and mouth because that is the most common route.
“Drops on your eyes are just as contagious, and of course I didn’t wear goggles during the flight.”
April 24: Fair flies from NYC to New Orleans.
Around April 28: Fair is starting to feel sick.
Around May 5: Fair’s flight symptoms are evolving into ‘a kind of walking pneumonia’.
13 May: Honest tweets that he is in hospital with COVID-19.
May 14: The doctor appears on NBC’s Today show to discuss his condition and explain that he thinks he caught COVID through his eyes.
15 May: Fair on the show again, saying that he ‘breathes almost normally’ and can walk.
May 18: Fair leaves hospital.
May 19: Fair updates the show and says he’s slowly getting better.
July 7: Fair says he has no antibodies to COVID, so his doctors don’t know what made him so sick.
Fair is certain that he caught something on the plane because he went straight home, but developed symptoms three to four days later, which is typical of the infections.
He said it felt like a moderately severe flu for the first week, but after four days he realized he had developed “some kind of walking pneumonia” – a secondary infection due to the virus.
Fair said that pneumonia got worse in a few days.
A week after he first experienced symptoms, he was only able to breathe in about a quarter of the air he was trying to breathe, he said.
Fair said that upon arrival at the hospital, he chose to have high oxygen volume over intubation, which was a last resort.
Fair was tested four times for the coronavirus during his hospital stay, and each time the negative came back.
The doctor, who usually ran up to 10 miles a day before falling ill, urged young people to be careful and used himself as an example of someone who was physically healthy and could be seriously affected.
“I was a very healthy person,” he said.
‘I can walk. I exercise five to six days a week.
“And if it can bring me down, it can bring anyone down.
“That’s not to say it’s going to kill you. But it’s just real – you don’t want it. That’s all I can tell you.
“And you don’t want to spread it to someone who is at high risk at some point.”