Humans have employed many weapons in the fight against the new SARS virus, including metals, like gold, and other minerals, which all play a crucial role.
The pandemic in Greece seems to be getting better according to official statistics of Hellenic National Public Health Organisation (EODY), and restrictions have started to be lifted. At this stage, authorities discuss the scenario of prioritising COVID-19 diagnostic tests. In this case, it is vital that new Covid-19 patients should be detected and isolated promptly while all the people they have been in contact with are traced.
Gold and Covid-19 diagnostic tests
One of the basic elements that many Covid-19 diagnostics tests use is gold. A small amount of gold, known as nanoparticles of gold, which are found in the make-up of special diagnostic tests, play a significant role in both their accuracy and the speed of their results — two vital traits in a pandemic.
Although it might sound contradictory, the use of gold in the creation of diagnostic tests reduces its production cost; Typical tests require samples from patients, then those samples need to be sent to a laboratory, where the analysis can occur — this is a time and money consuming process.
Instead, countries all over the world have managed to develop LFA-based tests, a quick and effective way of diagnosis, which are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and they are used for cases such as malaria worldwidely. LFA tests use gold, which produces results fast, and consequently the diagnosis is made in no time, usually in about 15 – 20 minutes.
The opinion of Trevor Keel, a consultant to the World Gold Council, about the contribution of gold to the fight against Covid-19 is noteworthy. In an article, he claims that:
“In the field of finance, gold has always been considered a safe and stable reserve, even during a crisis. Similarly, gold has been used in LFA diagnostic tests for over 40 years thanks to its unique natural properties, making the new LFA tests against Covid-19 the best choice and helping scientists evaluate the pandemic and find effective ways to deal with it.”
It is worth noting that the use of nanoparticles of gold is a pretty common practice in Medicine for both researching and treating certain types of cancer. Gold is also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and in different applications such as the coating of stents, the tubes that are inserted into veins and arteries in order to keep them open.
Minerals and metals in Medicine
Gold is one of the most precious metals and its potential uses for the sake of Medicine have fascinated the whole scientific community. There are many metals and minerals that are essential not only for the production of medical devices but also for overall human health as they have been used for such purposes for centuries.
For instance, calcium, which helps to keep human bones and teeth healthy, activates enzymes in the whole body and facilitates the control of blood pressure.
Iron contributes to the production of haemoglobin and myoglobin. At the same time, it is necessary for certain enzyme activation and the production of amino acids, like collagen, neurotransmitter and hormones.
Metals like copper not only contribute to a functional human body (copper in particular keeps bones, blood vessels, neurons and the immune system healthy, while it absorbs iron and forms red blood cells) but also they are widely used in various fields of Medicine. The use of copper in computed tomography scan and diagnostic methods like nuclear imaging and radiation therapy are vital.
Furthermore, thanks to its antimicrobial properties, it is widely used in hospitals as a means of preventing the spread of virus and infections both on the surfaces of all kinds of rooms and furniture and in protective masks which are made of nanofibers and copper hydroxide.
Zinc, silver and lead are of equal significance to copper, which possesses important insulating properties and it is used for protection against radioactivity and harmful radiation in the hospital robes of both patients and doctors when they are exposed to X-rays either for diagnostic or treatment purposes.
Mineral sufficiency in Europe
The case of Greece
The need for enhancing the health system of countries all around the world became evident during the pandemic.
In order for hospitals worldwide, especially in Europe and the USA which are the countries that have suffered the most due to Covid-19, to deal with the unprecedented pressure, they were forced to ban the exportation of medical supplies while others desperately have been searching for ways to employ more healthcare workers so that they have more people fighting this war.
Minerals as raw materials
Europe is considered a shielded continent. This means that it has adequate sources of raw minerals that allow it to construct and deliver medical products, such as supplies and state-of-the-art devices, to all member states of the EU in no time.
The mining industry of the whole of Europe stays strong during this difficult circumstance, in this critical fight, and provides essential supplies of raw materials wherever they are needed, helping all European countries fight against Covid-19.
The underground of Greece is replete with metals
Greece has a great variety of high-quality minerals and industries that complete their demanding task of mining and transporting minerals in European and international markets in a responsible and practicable manner. Copper, zinc, gold, silver and lead are all essential metals in Medicine, and they are excavated in Kassandra Mines in the northerneastern part of Greece by Hellas Gold, which has been in business since 2004 and it employs more than 1,600 employees.
Covid-19 came, changed our lives and it will probably keep affecting us for a long time. Utilising any weapon we have, we can hope for the best. Minerals and metals, the wealth of our country can play a significant role in this fight to shield both our body and hospitals. Gold, copper, zinc, silver and lead are not just metals that are used in some aspects of our lives but they are indissolubly linked to our health, to life in general.