In early 2020 cases of a new coronavirus infection ( COVID-19 ) were spreading around the world, and governments were taking extraordinary measures to limit the spread.
‘Resistance is futile’ – to the virus but also the associated political and business opportunities.
While governments took extraordinary measures to limit the spread, it was just another viral mutation – another price we may have to pay for a shrinking world.
The next virus in line.
Viruses are difficult to treat and prevent and do not respond to anti-bacterial drugs such as antibiotics.
With the increase in World Travel between first and third world countries for business and pleasure, we will see such outbreaks from time to time as viruses can mutate and become the next virulent strain to “hit us” and incidentally, the “News”.
Why you need to know about this new virus
The concern regarding the new virus was well-deserved, because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of the end of January 2020 there had been 10,000 confirmed cases and 213 confirmed deaths attributed to 2019-nCoV. Also, that 99% of the cases and all of the deaths were in China.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly all of those with confirmed cases either lived in China or had traveled from China to other countries.
By then, six cases had been reported in the US in four states (Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington). Another 160 people in 36 states are being evaluated for suspected infection.
All of these numbers were likely to rise in the coming days and weeks, because each infected person could potentially spread the infection to many others. It was possible that a person can spread the infection before he or she knows they are sick, and if true, meant quickly containing its spread may be impossible.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the most common symptoms of COVID-19 were fever, tiredness, and dry cough.
Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually and are unfortunately, similar to many other illnesses, including other coronaviruses.
The CDC reported that the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person – when someone infected, coughs or sneezes, the virus can be spread in respiratory droplets, which might reach the mouths or noses of people who are in close contact (within about 2 metres). This could then lead to infection of the new host.
The droplets can also land on surfaces, which other people might then touch, potentially leading to an infection if a person then touches their mouth, nose or eyes.
WHO claims that studies suggest that coronaviruses survive on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. Clearly disinfection of potentially infected areas should be considered.
As coronavirus is spread through droplets transmitted into the air from coughing or sneezing, the viral particles in these droplets travel quickly to the back of your nasal passages and also to the mucous membranes in the back of your throat, attaching to a particular receptor in cells and this is where the infection’ begins.
Sub-microscopically, Coronavirus particles have spiked proteins sticking out from their surfaces, and these spikes hook onto cell membranes, allowing the virus’s genetic material to enter the human cell.
The virus then travels progressively down the bronchial tubes and when the virus reaches the lungs, where the mucous membranes become inflamed too.
This inflammation causes damage the alveoli or lung sacs which become less able to fulfil their function of supplying oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the blood to and from the body.
The swelling and the impaired flow of oxygen can cause those areas in the lungs to fill with fluid, pus and dead cells (Pneumonia). This is, an infection in the lung.
Some infected people have trouble breathing and are put on a ventilators. In the worst cases, known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), the lungs become filled with so much fluid that no amount of breathing support can help, and death follows.
There’s no vaccine available yet against the virus that causes COVID-19. Several pharmaceutical companies work on vaccines and treatments, but at least 12-18 months is generally expected to pass before any vaccine is available.
For prevention, the same precautions as for other coronaviruses are recommended and those you probably already take and that everybody should, to avoid getting the flu or a cold, according to the CDC and WHO.
These unforeseen viral outbreaks will continue. As we don’t have a “cure for the common cold” we will remain somewhat vulnerable as strains mutate, or at least our weakest will.
Those with pre-existing illnesses, the very young and those with cancer. These are all groups with compromised immune systems. Let us remember though, that in the US, statistically, flu is the larger and pre-existing threat statistically, and for the same reason.
While news of a novel and deadly virus spreading across the globe may be terrifying, it’s important to recognize that the most threatening virus in this country right now isn’t 2019-nCoV — it’s the flu.
According to the CDC there had already been up to 26 million cases of the flu, leading to hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions and up to 25,000 deaths, and the 2019-20 flu season had not been particularly severe.
Other viral flu prevention measures (such as staying away from others who are sick and taking care to not infect others if you’re sick) are basic strategies that can also help you avoid 2019-nCoV.
Travelling in confined spaces and working in offices are clearly not ideal in such outbreaks.
There are times like these that working from home have even more advantages!
Click below for another reason why I love working from home.
For the general public, the preventative methods available should become habit anyway. Some people wear masks in cities and some even wear clear examining gloves when they go out.
The historical “friendly handshake”, may one day be replaced with the “bow” of yesteryear (and some present-day Asian cultures). Remember, the masculine “fist punch” remains a point of body contact too! Touching and/or rubbing your eyes is a greatly under-estimated danger too.
Prevention also underlines the importance of remaining otherwise well. Exercise, good sleep and adequate nutrition always remain a base requirement for disease prevention.
Good sleep cannot be underestimated. Click below to investigate the interesting phenomenon of sleep and what it does for us.
Exercise is a double-edged sword. Individual activities such as walking, jogging and home-based exercise is safer than going to the gym, heavily populated with others sweating and panting.
Public health opinion is that it is generally safe to go swimming as the chlorine within swimming pools will help to kill the virus. However, visitors to swimming pools are reminded to shower before using a pool, to shower on leaving the pool and to follow the necessary hygiene when visiting public places to help reduce the risk of infection.
Nutrition and supplementation
When afflicted with the common cold, many people chug back orange juice and swallow vitamin C supplements in an attempt to “boost” their immune systems. Vitamin C supplements alone won’t ward off the common cold in most people however, and there’s even less evidence that it grants sole immunity against SARS-CoV-2 alone, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Recent research does suggest that vitamin C supplements reduce the duration of colds in the general population, and while the body relies on vitamin C to launch an effective immune response while sustaining minimal damage, it is unlikely to make a significant impact alone.
However, as the body can’t make its own vitamin C or store the nutrient efficiently, (the water-soluble vitamin dissolves and is shortly excreted in the urine.) This does bathe tissues in this antioxidant, however.
The best way to meet our daily requirement of antioxidants is to consume vitamin-rich fruits, vegetables and fortified foods where possible and use balanced supplementation.
I take daily antioxidant supplementation. Our scientific evidence is still not complete, but I don’t intend to ignore common sense while our academics fight over their strongly held opinions.
Click below for my recommended antioxidant supplementation
Dr. Stephen Bray 2020