Here's what I've figured out:
Having an iron ion inside is what allows this heme to carry O2 (and CO2) in our blood.
Many viruses have these; they're like helper proteins that facilitate things that the virus does.
This makes the red blood cell unable to transport O2 and CO2.
Even when a patient can breath (fill lungs with air), the oxygen isn't getting to the cells in their body.
The lungs not working is a result of lack of O2 in blood, not the cause of it.
1. Starting drug treatment while symptoms are mild keeps virus from hijacking too much blood, enabling a still-healthy body to mount an immune response.
Explains why early drug treatment (first week of symptoms) is often successful.
If all this is true, we would see rapid patient improvement.
Also, if it's true, we're gonna need a lot of blood donations.
So far as I know, there are no studies where we've tried transfusing blood from a patient who HASN'T had or recovered from COVID-19:
In this one, we transfused plasma (and antibodies) but not heme. But it was done 3rd week with no control group, it's of limited conclusiveness.
Houston Methodist has been approved to do blood plasma transfusion therapy, but "the FDA must approve each patient using the donated convalescent serum" WHICH IS INSANE by the way.
If anyone knows working ER docs handling incoming severe patients, please transmit.