CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Coronavirus Update:

       If you have been following the outbreak of dozens of different Influenza viruses over the last years, and have followed seasonal avoidance and prevention messages, then you probably are not too worried at this point in the  evolving Coronavirus story.   I have no special insider information, but did stay awake and enjoyed my immunology and virology training.  Press reports are focusing on grandstanding tid-bits but simply keep repeating untested messages. Different countries handle data differently.  For example, Russia shares a long border with China, but does little testing, and claim to have few cases. Italy, is tracking things very aggressively.  We only test people under severe restrictions.  All this means is the end data can be distorted, including the death rate. At this time, it is about 4%, which is still magnitudes above all the Influenza viruses.

     The world is over three months into this situation.  Theory dictates that at the onset of an outbreak, you try to isolate and contain the situation which should cause it to settle down.  When it reaches pandemic stages, it is spreading along with dozens of other pathogens around the globe. The strategy then shifts totally to minimize spread.  Some helpful tidbits:

        Coronavirus is an invisible cold virus, that can produce symptoms similar to the dozens of invisible flu viruses.  It is circulating in Mississauga, at a slow and small rate.

       Testing is of little use other than at the onset, when you need to gather information to make predictions.

       Like flu viruses, these things are not out to destroy humanity.  The lungs are a great place to reproduce and spread, a strategy eons old.  Death occurs only when the immune system is overwhelmed. These viruses ideally only borrow our lungs and move on, so they have a place to use next season. 

      This is flu season, and a lot of people are being struck with the flu, most for a few days only.  A room full of sick people is a room full of sick.  You can’t tell the difference who has what by clinical exam.

      Initial symptoms like fever, sore throat,  chills and fatigue, is usually a sign that our immune system has started the battle and has a greater than 98 percent chance of  winning, yet the human condition is one that we love to bet on impossible odds and buy lottery tickets.  Almost everyone recovers from seasonal flu, which is why the hygienic advice over the last 25 years has been taken lightly. Older folks, smokers, heart patients, asthmatics have a much more difficult time handling the symptoms, and can generally get much sicker.

      Testing at this point should be reserved for hospitalized people only.  There is no quick antidote and testing is very expensive and limited.  Due to the severe restrictions and cost, lab tests are only done after you go thru an extensive and time consuming process.

    The best piece of prevention is keeping your immune system healthy.  Eat fresh, breath fresh, walk lots, drink water is advice that has worked for over a hundred years.

         Avoid consuming sugar.   Limit portions to less than 10 gm per serving. (2 tsps)  A can of pop or glass of orange juice, can lower your immune cell activity by 60 percent for 8 hours.   It is better to keep it functioning at peak levels.

        Antibiotics do not affect viruses and are not needed and can be detrimental for the same reason noted above.     They reduce our natural immune function, but destroy bacteria when needed.  Unnecessary use can eliminate gut bacteria, that may be signaling important messages to other body parts.  They can also cause diarrhea, which may explain the perplexing herd fear becoming epidemic at Costco outlets.      Front line physicians have not been issued any protective gear of any sort, apart from soap.  Washing your hands and covering your mouth during cough helps, and masks help prevent particle spread from its usual 30 foot distance.

     It seems active virus can survive on surfaces for a short period of time, but need heat, oxygen, and moisture to thrive. 

      Herbal remedies have limited scientific basis, and failed to prove themselves in the past. There is some evidence from a Nobel Winning Scientist from the 1940’s that Vitamin C at 1000mg three times daily may impair viral replication in the acute phase only.  Acetaminophen for fever and muscle aches, gargles or lozenges for sore throats help, but avoid cough suppressants which can allow lung mucus to accumulate.

     For the current time, isolation is a good idea. Patterns will become established and better advice will follow.