With the constant media attention of the Coronavirus as of late, I came upon two great articles that quells the over exaggeration and hype with reality and expectations.
Yes, you want to build your immune system. Healthy and safe options are: eating healthy- reduce/ discontinue processed sugars and foods, eat more fruits and veggies (preferably organic), herbs and berries, reduce/discontinue alcohol, exercise, wash your hands with soap and water (be careful of hand sanitizers, as many of them are toxic), take quality vitamins and supplements- especially A, C, D, and Magnesium and/or certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils- again, be careful, as EOs found in your local stores, even health food stores are toxic and have fillers- don’t get fooled by their claims of 100% pure- just read the ingredients and warnings, meditation, yoga, correct breathing techniques, Reiki and other energy work, massage, chiropractic, floating, and positive thinking- thinking and worrying about it will surely attract it to you.
Five Reasons You Don’t Need to Panic About the COVID-19 Coronavirus
By Ross Pomeroy – RCP Staff REalClear Science
The COVID-19 coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China back in December 2019 is now spreading globally and will undoubtedly be declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) very soon. Its ascendance has already rattled stock markets, disrupted the daily lives of millions, and resulted in the heartbreaking deaths of over 3,000 people, including the six in the United States as of March 3rd. With COVID-19’s spread now picking up steam outside of China – it has now arrived in at least 68 countries and new cases are rising almost every day – we can expect its outbreak to get worse before it gets better.
Make no mistake, COVID-19 is a grave pathogenic threat which must be taken seriously. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed.
The CDC’s warning is frank and unnerving. It is an impetus for sober and reasoned action. Stock up on a week’s worth of frozen/canned food. Restock your medicine cabinet. Practice proper hygiene. Stay home if you’re feeling sick. There is no need, however, to panic. If you’re feeling in any way anxious about the coronavirus outbreak, here are five facts to help assuage your worries.
1. The number of cases in China is already falling significantly. Where once the graph of coronavirus cases in China showed an exponential climb, it has now leveled off substantially. Just three weeks ago, China was recording more than 3,000 new cases per day. Officials are now consistently reporting fewer than a thousand. Seeing much-improved conditions on the ground, big companies like Starbucks and Apple in China are resuming business activities. The latest (Mar. 2nd) World Health Organization (WHO) situation report revealed 206 new cases in China in the previous 24 hours, all but ten of them in Hubei Province, where COVID-19 arose.
2. The vast majority of cases are mild, and the death rate is likely lower than reported. A large study of 72,000 confirmed COVID-19 patients in China found that 81% of cases were mild, another 14% were severe (characterized by difficulty breathing), and 5% were critical. Overall, the death rate was 2.3 percent. More recently, the WHO reported a death rate of 3.8% in China, but noted that it is rapidly falling as standards of care quickly improve. Early on, the city of Wuhan (where the disease originated) was inundated with patients and hospitals could not provide proper care due to overwhelming demand. For Chinese patients whose symptoms started after February 1st, the death rate is just 0.7 percent. (For comparison, the U.S. death rate from 2019-20’s annual flu oubtreak is between .06 percent to 0.1 percent. SARS a similar virus to COVID-19, had a death rate of 9.6 percent.) The death rate could be even lower, as very mild cases of COVID-19 that resemble a common cold likely go unreported.
3. Only one out of every 1,000 people in Hubei Province has contracted the coronavirus. There have been 67,103 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China’s Hubei Province, where the outbreak began in December. That sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that the population of Hubei is 59,170,000. The province is slightly smaller than Nebraska, but with thirty times as many inhabitants. With this sort of population density, it’s a positive sign that just .11% (roughly 1 in 1000) of the population has caught COVID-19. Even if there were 51,000 unreported cases, that would mean only one out of every 500 people in Hubei caught the virus. Given the population density in most other countries is significantly lower than in China, we can expect that the coronavirus will have a much harder time spreading in much of the world.
4. There have been no reported deaths in young children. Though the outbreak has endured for more than nine weeks, there still have been no fatalities in children under the age of nine, with almost all infected simply experiencing cold-like symptoms. Moreover, only 2.4% of cases are in individuals under the age of 18. Kids and teenagers have been surprisingly resistant to the virus.
The death rate for people aged 10 to 39 currently stands at just 0.2 percent. Those genuinely at risk from COVID-19 are the elderly. People aged 80 and up have a 14.8% to 21.9% chance of dying if infected.
5. The world already survived another pandemic just ten years ago. Remember H1N1, more commonly known as Swine Flu? This was the most recent pandemic (besides HIV/AIDS, which is still considered a pandemic). It began in early 2009 and lasted through late 2010. Between April 2009 and April 2010, there were approximately 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths in the United States alone! Globally, it likely infected between 700 million and 1.4 billion people, resulting in 150,000 to 575,000 fatalities. While this loss of life was tragic, more than a decade later, many scarcely remember Swine Flu. The same will hopefully happen with COVID-19.
*Updated March 3rd with the latest statistics.
Infectious Disease Doctor: What Does (And Doesn’t) Scare Me About The Coronavirus
Being a specialist in infectious diseases right now is an interesting experience. Added to the usual challenges of our everyday practice — caring for people receiving transplants or chemotherapy, those with HIV, surgical infections, tropical diseases and others — we now must manage a deluge of coronavirus-related questions from friends, family and colleagues.
Here are a few recent examples, along with my responses.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: My baby has a pediatrician’s appointment next week, and the doctor’s office is right next to the hospital. Is it safe to go?
Q: Should I wear a mask while commuting to work on the T or other public transit?
A: Only if you’re sick yourself, because the mask will protect others. Otherwise masks probably don’t do anything to protect you. Here’s what you should do: Wash your hands!
I’ve had a trip planned for a year to Australia and New Zealand and am supposed to leave in early April — should I cancel now and get a partial refund?
Only cancel if the anxiety of going would make you not enjoy the trip.
Q: I’m just back from France and have a bad cough, sore throat and a chill. How do I know if it’s the flu or coronavirus?
A: We really can’t tell. Reach out to your doctor and see about getting tested for both.
Q: Should I avoid Corona beer?
A: There’s no coronavirus-linked reason to pass on Corona beer — but in my opinion, it’s not very tasty.
OK, so my friends, family and colleagues haven’t really asked about that last one — but it is a thing.
Now, there was one actual question that caught me off guard: “What are you afraid of?”
Before responding, let me acknowledge that I am by nature an optimistic person — my family even gave me a T-shirt with the words “half full.”
Plus, we infectious diseases specialists are, by our very training and clinical activities, repeatedly handling situations that would make others uncomfortable — such as treating patients with anthrax, SARS, MERS, West Nile, H1N1 influenza, Zika and Ebola in the last 20 years alone.
But several aspects of this incipient pandemic cause me great concern.
5 Big Concerns
1. Our health care system does not have “surge” capacity. This is especially true during flu season, when many hospitals run at nearly full capacity. Adding a high volume of patients with respiratory infections — all of whom would require private rooms — will severely strain most institutions. It will further block other important hospital activities, such as elective surgeries and transfers from other hospitals. This is already happening in northern Italy.
2. Here in the U.S., testing for the new coronavirus was initially sharply limited. For a variety of reasons — misguided policy, regulatory limitations and faulty tests — we only recently started broad testing for coronavirus among people with compatible symptoms — some two months after the disease was first reported. (Initially, only those who had traveled to regions with coronavirus outbreaks were eligible for testing.) While other countries have already conducted thousands or even tens of thousands of tests, as of last week the U.S. had done fewer than 500. While the logjam on testing should end soon, it’s probably too late to prevent extensive community transmission.
3. The people at greatest risk for severe or fatal coronavirus illness are already our most vulnerable patients. Like other viral respiratory tract infections — flu, respiratory syncytial virus, even rhinovirus (cause of the common cold) — older age and concurrent medical problems make coronavirus infection much more serious. Estimates from China suggest the mortality rate among those older than 80 is 15%. That’s why the reported identification of cases in a Washington nursing home is particularly worrisome.
4. Hoarding of masks and other protective equipment could stress the supply chain, putting health care workers at risk. All of us in health care accept that exposure to infection is part of our job. But to do so without the appropriate protective supplies cannot be permitted. It is critical that we have access to the specialized N95 masks and other gear, especially during procedures that increase the risk of exposure.
5. Political pressures might make it difficult for public health officials to tell the truth. Does Dr. Anthony Fauci — longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and someone who has navigated outbreaks for decades — really need to have his statements cleared by Vice President Mike Pence? When Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said a global pandemic was highly likely, only to be contradicted later that day by the president, who should we believe? The Trump administration on Saturday denied muzzling public health officials, but I find these examples troubling.
3 Important Reasons For Optimism
If that list seems like a lot to worry about, let me mention a few things I’m not worried about — and that even give me hope.
1. We know the disease is mild in most people who get it. At least 80%, most likely more, won’t have an illness bad enough to warrant hospitalization. We’ll have a better idea once testing is more broadly applied, but it would not surprise me if the widely cited case fatality rate of 1-2% is eventually less than half that.
2. Children seem particularly protected from severe coronavirus disease. Many of the sniffles and colds kids experience are due to existing milder coronavirus strains, possibly giving them partial immunity to this more serious new threat.
3. There has been extraordinary global cooperation from doctors, scientists and public health officials. In most cases, this has included remarkable sharing of clinical data and research. It is wonderful to see the medical community responding in such a unified voice, all of us trying to solve this new problem.
Guess I can still wear my “half full” T-shirt.
Dr. Paul Sax is the clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and blogs on infectious disease here. Common Health