It’s pretty clear that the coronavirus we have all been hearing about for the past few months is definitely not just going to fade away. In fact, it is expanding rapidly throughout the world and is showing up in greater numbers in the U.S. and in many other countries.
This coronavirus, called SARS-COV-2 (which causes COVID-19), has infected over 90,000 people and killed over 3300 in just a few months’ time. And while we all have had plenty of experience with a broad range of viruses in our lives, this one is particularly unusual because it is a novel virus. This means it has not been exposed to humans before, so there is no immunity to this virus yet. And while it is from a well-known family of respiratory viruses (the coronaviruses), this new version of coronavirus is still a bit of a mystery. There is much we do not yet know or understand about it — and we are learning more every day.
Many patients have been asking if they should be concerned and what they should do to protect themselves. Given the way the virus is behaving and spreading, these are very important questions to address. So, now is the time to start taking preventive measures to keep yourself and your family healthy.
What Do We Know About This Virus?
While medical and public health professionals are quickly learning more about COVID-19, it is clear that this virus is acting quite differently than the flu. It is more easily transmitted from one person to another than the typical influenza virus based on data from China. It is also potentially more severe for certain segments of the population – particularly the elderly.
Up to 80% of people who contract this virus may have a mild illness and recuperate without much need for medical intervention. Some with have symptoms similar to the flu (high fever, cough, upper respiratory symptoms, diarrhea and stomach upset) that will resolve with supportive care at home, but others will have little or no symptoms at all. This is a blessing on one hand, but also a challenge on the other as these infected people who feel just fine may be out spreading COVID-19 without realizing they are sick.
And when we look more closely at the statistics on outcomes from the typical flu versus this virus, the numbers show that COVID-19 carries far more risk than the flu for certain groups. While the typical influenza virus kills 0.2% or less of those who contract it, the COVID-19 virus is currently showing statistics that it can be fatal in 2% or more of cases (up to 14% for those over age 80). This means it could claim up to 20 times more lives, or more than the current flu typically does.
The ramifications of this are significant as a virus like this would require abundant available resources from the healthcare system in the US and elsewhere. Would there be enough physicians and nurses to staff the ERs for this kind of influx? Is an adequate supply of medications available? What about protective equipment for healthcare workers and physicians? Would there be enough ICU beds to care for all who need that level of care?
As pockets of more cases are showing up in the U.S., surveillance for the virus is changing. It’s no longer limited to just evaluating patients who have been in or with others from Wuhan, China. We are now looking at all patients with flu-like symptoms who test negative for influenza as potential COVID-19 infected patients. The challenge is that the U.S. does not yet have enough test kits available for widespread checking for the virus – but more are finally coming.
In the coming days and weeks, we will all learn more about this virus and the impact it may have on our daily lives in America and around the world. I share this information not to scare anyone, but to raise awareness and hopefully inspire us all to make some practical adjustments now to our daily routines to help protect us and our loves ones from this coronavirus.
What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?
First off, do the common sense things that we know work very well!
- Wash your hands. Wash them frequently. If there is no soap and water around, use hand sanitizer.
- Train yourself not to touch your eyes, nose, mouth.
- If you do not feel well, stay home. This is hugely important.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthier diet – good nutrition will help keep you healthy and support your immune system.
- Buy enough food and supplies for home to cover you if there is a period of a few weeks when you need to stay in.
- Avoid crowds. As this virus becomes more widespread and no longer containable, it will make sense to think about limiting exposure to large groups of people for a period of time until the infection rate comes down.
- Take supplements and continue them if you get sick. Focus on taking those that we know help support the immune system against viruses. This includes: vitamin C (1000mg three times daily with food), Vitamin D (at least 5000 i.u. daily), Quercitin (500mg twice daily), mineral support (including zinc, magnesium and others). Monolaurin (also called Lauricidin) could be a great addition to your regimen as it has been shown to have some activity against viruses but this one should be started slow (just a few a day, working slowly up to 1 scoop twice daily). All of these are available in our office or through Fullscript on the Store page of our website.
- Take steps to keep your stress level down. Whether this is through exercise, or meditation, or some other way, identify things you can do to help keep yourself feeling calm. If you’d like a suggestion, the following is a link to a great video that takes you through how to use EFT, a tapping technique, to reduce stress. You can do it in less than 20 minutes at home.
How To Reach Dr. Weiler
Our office is ready to serve you remotely if face to face visits are more difficult for some period of time in the coming weeks. In the meantime, patients may continue to schedule in-office appointments.
Just call us at (773) 784-7000 and based on your needs, we can schedule you for a face to face visit or for a virtual appointment. Appointments can be scheduled with Dr. Weiler for medical-related matters or with Danielle LaPierre for nutrition-related concerns.
Above all, remember that it’s the simple and proven self-care steps that will do the most to keep us all healthy through this current health situation!
Helpful Information Sources For Updates On COVID-19
Here is a link to the Johns Hopkins site that tracks the number of COVID-19 cases:
The CDC website for updates on COVID-19:
The New York Times interactive map of U.S. with daily updates: