- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Maybe. Maybe not. Should in-depth, scientific research be launched?
Yes, say a trio of researchers in an article published in sciencedirect.com.
Lead author Wei Yang, an oncologist from China, and two associates related some interesting but anecdotal information about beekeepers in the COVID-19 epicenter, the Hubei province. The beekeepers surveyed didn't contract the COVID-19 virus. Neither did a group of surveyed patients receiving apitherapy.
"A total of 5115 beekeepers were surveyed from February 23 to March 8, including 723 in Wuhan, the outbreak epicentre of Hubei. None of these beekeepers developed symptoms associated with COVID-19, and their health was totally normal. After that, we interviewed five apitherapists in Wuhan and followed 121 patients of their apitherapy clinic. These patients had received apitherapy from October 2019 to December 2019, and all the five bee apitherapists have the habit of self-apitherapy for their own health care (apitherapy means making use of bee venom from the honeybee's sting to treat or prevent certain diseases). Without any protective measures, two of the five apitherapists were exposed to suspected COVID-19 cases and others were exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases, but none of them were infected eventually. None of the 121 patients were infected by SARS-CoV-2, and three of them had close contact with immediate family members who were confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection cases. It might be supposed that beekeepers are less likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 because they live in less densely populated rural areas. But the five apitherapists and their patients are from densely populated areas in Wuhan. These people have one thing in common: they develop a tolerance to bee sting."
The co-authors pointed out that "It reminds us the story of the discovery of cowpox and the eventual victory of humans over this disease (Bennett and Baxby, 1996)."
Robert E. Page Jr. to Discuss Topic
Internationally renowned bee geneticist Robert E. Page Jr., UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor, will discuss the topic briefly, offering his comments, at the third UC Davis-based COVID-19 Symposium on Wednesday, June 3 via Zoom and YouTube. To register and view the program, access https://bit.ly/2AgVbxY.
"We already have registrants from 25 countries," said UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, who organizes and moderates the symposiums. He interviewed Page and all the other symposium participants.
Page is known for his research on honey bee behavior and population genetics, particularly the evolution of complex social behavior. One of his most salient contributions to science was to construct the first genomic map of the honey bee, which sparked a variety of pioneering contributions not only to insect biology but to genetics at large. Page is the author of the newly published book, The Art of the Bee: Shaping the Environment from Landscapes to Societies.
A little information on Rob Page: He's a former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. He established a 24-year bee breeding program at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. He served as the founding director of the School of Life Sciences of Arizona State University (ASU). His ASU career advanced to dean of Life Sciences; vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and university provost.
One of Page's comments during the interview: "The venom from bee stings causes inflammation. it recruits anti-inflammatory responses. It's something that has been used for a long time for therapeutic treatment of arthritis."
Pre-Program at 4:30, Program from 5 to 7 p.m.
The virtual symposium starts at 4:30 with a pre-program of interviews and questions. Among the interviewees is retired UC Davis Medical Center nurse Carolyn Wyler of Sacramento, a passenger on the ill-fated Grand Princess cruise ship.
The program, from 5 to 7 p.m. and mainly on vaccines, will begin with a welcoming address by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May. The primary speakers or panelists:
- Dr. Robert Gallo, who co-discovered that HIV causes AIDS, is the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine; co-founder and director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Institute of Human Virology; and co-founder of the Global Virus Network.
- Kate Broderick, who is leading an INOVIO research team in San Diego to develop a DNA vaccine for COVID-19,
- Dr. Dean Blumberg, professor and chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, UC Davis Health
- Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine.
Also interviewed will be Dr. Atul Malhotra, professor of Medicine, Pulmonology, Critical Care, UC San Diego Health, and Dr. Stuart H. Cohen, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, UC Davis School of Medicine.
Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has organized and moderated two other COVID-19 symposiums. The first symposium is online at https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z and the second at https://bit.ly/3b8TAau.
Leal may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.