We have a Pandemic.
On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared that Covid-19 as a pandemic. In the three months since the newest Corona virus infection SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 (the name of the condition) appeared in Wuhan China about 120,000 people have been diagnosed with it and about 3,500 people have died. SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. As of this date, (March 12th, 2020), there have been about 1200 cases of Covid-19 with thirty-six people having died from Covid-19 in the U.S. There is growing concern about the pathogenicity of the virus, what risks this virus will have on our health, what implications it would have on our economy and on our way of life if it were to continue to infect mass amounts of people here within our borders.
As with any pandemic, these concerns are justified. Digesting the latest data on infection rates will help us understand the situation and give ourselves, and our society the opportunity to protect ourselves adequately.
Like the flu virus, the consensus is, the corona virus came from an animal. At the present time it is believed this virus may have been originally transmitted by a bat or some other animal in a Chinese market. In 2003-2004, another Corona virus, the SARS virus resulted in 774 deaths out of 8096 cases in 29 countries, amounting to an almost 10% death rate. In 2012 MERS (middle east respiratory syndrome) caused 858 deaths out of the 2494 cases throughout 27 countries for a frightening 30% death rate. There are four other corona viruses that are often the cause of the common cold such as HCoV 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1. These have long been widespread globally and cause 10%-30% of upper respiratory tract infections in adults. Because the newest Corona virus is projected to have a much higher mortality rate (up to 30x) of the seasonal flu, (around .1%), alarming projections and fears of cities being quarantined are being implemented overseas and now here in the U.S.
Here are some statistics regarding all influenza strains the past several years compared with this year’s Covid-19 virus. I have rounded the numbers for ease of understanding.
Cases Deaths Mortality rate
2020 Corona virus worldwide 120,000 3500 3.0%
2018-2019 (US only) 35,000,000 34,000 .1%
2017-2018 (US only) 45,000,000 61,000 .1%
2016-2017 (US only) 29,000,000 38,000 .1%
2015-2016 (US only) 24,000,000 23,000 .1%
The Covid-19 mortality rate is lower than the previous SARS and MERS viruses, but it is still (30x) higher than the typical flu and is spreading faster throughout the world than the previously mentioned viruses. If the corona virus were to infect millions of people here in the U.S., there would be a noticeable increase in mortality numbers at its present rate of about 3%. On one hand the mortality rate for Covid-19 is likely skewed upward because, 1. Unlike the common flu, the Covid-19 virus rarely affects children, and 2. Older adults (over 80) with co-morbidity issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes and COPD, do ramp up the mortality index quite a bit and 3. There has been a lack of testing which would dilute the mortality statistics. On the other hand, the mortality numbers would be high regardless and are worth being alarmed by. Additionally, the longer latency period before symptoms show up, and the longer survivability of the virus on various surfaces sends off more alarms. Clearly this is not behaving like a typical flu virus. Thankfully about 80% of those infected only report mild symptoms. More good news, according to an analysis of the 44,672 patients in China who had no other health concerns the fatality rate was .1% from Covid-19, which is about the same death rate of the common flu.
Treatments and Prevention
As with all viruses, either avoiding direct contact with someone who is coughing or avoiding touching something they may have touched is helpful. Crowded spaces where this may happen such as an airport or mall are places to be avoiding and we all should be more diligent about washing our hands.
Testing would help with prevention. Taiwan proactively put in place an extensive testing program with all flights arriving from China, and Taiwan has the tenth lowest incidence of Covid-19 despite their proximity to China.
Medical treatments for Covid-19 right now are repurposed approaches to treating SARS and MERS infections because there isn’t an approved specific protocol for the treatment of Covid-19. Approved nucleoside analogues (antiviral drugs) such as favipiravir, and ribavirin and experimental nucleoside analogues remdesivir, and galidesivir may have the potential to treat Covid-19 by targeting RNA polymerase which would block the replication of the RNA of the virus. In some cases, interferon is added to help the immune system. In addition, protease inhibitors such as disulfiram, lopinavir, and ritonavir have been reported to be active against SARS and MERS, so it may be effective as well against Covid-19.
Something that has worked for Ebola and other infections is plasma injections from people that have recovered from Covid-19 and this was reportedly used successfully in China. John Hopkins University will be setting this up in the next few weeks.
There are many simple options for helping the body ward off viral infections. I will list several here:
Zinc: Is effective at inhibiting viral replication and while all zinc supplements would be effective, zinc acetate lozenges seem to be a little more effective at doing so.
Vitamin D: Is helpful for preventing upper respiratory infections. The lack of solar UV rays in the wintertime may play a part in why viruses are more common during the shorter days of sunshine in the winter.
Garlic: Although there have been more antibacterial studies than antiviral studies, there is some evidence of it being helpful in the prevention of the common cold.
Echinacea: Some evidence of it’s being helpful for viral and bacterial infections.
Probiotics: There are many different ones but if it contains enough colony forming units it can help the body fight off infections that are either bacterial or viral.
Colloidal Silver: Has been used as a natural antibiotic and antiviral for centuries.
Star Anise: Plant that the drug Tamiflu is derived from.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): One of the important precursors to the antioxidant Glutathione. Glutathione is important to quell the inflammatory response common with infections. Commonly called the cytokine storm, the body’s own reaction to the immune response to an infection can cause its own demise if the cytokine storm isn’t defused rapidly.
Vitamin C: Helps immune cells form and function. Regular vitamin C ingestion results in shorter and less severe symptoms of colds. Dr. Paul Marik of Sentara Norfolk Hospital has an IV vitamin C protocol that includes 200 mg of thiamine every 12 hours, 1,500 mg of ascorbic acid and 50 mg of hydrocortisone every 6 hours which helped lower sepsis fatalities from 40% to 8.5%.
Astragalus: An herb that has antiviral properties
Medicinal Mushrooms: Reishi, Chaga, Shitake, Maitake, Lions Mane, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps are all high in antioxidants, and polysaccharides that are good for our immune system.
Green Tea: Contains epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which prevents the viral membrane of both influenza A and B from adhering to cell walls. One study showed a green tea gargle had an 87% protection rate from the flu.
Honey: There is a long history of honey being used for both bacterial and viral infections.
Olive Leaf: Contains Oleuropein, an effective chemical that is good for fighting viruses.
Exercise, and aromatherapy. Diffusing essential oils in your house that have antimicrobial effects is also useful. Eucalyptus, Pine, and others help eliminate microbes. Having an air purification system in the home would help too.
The epidemiological precautions with school closings and gatherings of people especially in closed spaces will be helpful to saving lives, especially in our senior citizens, and others with weakened immune systems. If you are aware that you are in a higher risk category, then some of the precautions above should be implemented. If you feel sick, you should stay home. It's important to try and remain calm in midst of chaos. Elevated fear levels will only make your immune system more stressed and more prone to an infection. Follow the same precautions that you would every year with regards to flu prevention, such as limiting the exposure of carriers, and washing your hands thoroughly with soap throughout the day while avoiding touching your face and mouth. In 30+ years of practice I have never turned a patient away who was ill with the flu even though patients sometimes ask if they should not come in because of a cough or fever. Today is different. I will be in the office, however if you are feeling sick, you should be at home and get tested to avoid being a carrier that could infect someone. Chiropractic has always subscribed to the idea that the germ is the secondary problem, and that with a strong immune system you need not worry. I still believe this, but this is a different germ and we live in different times. Please read below:
It’s not widely talked about, but the Covid-19 virus could be a hybrid virus made in a Biosafety level 4 laboratory (BSL-4) that either escaped accidently or purposely. While this might sound like the fictional script for a Hollywood thriller, unfortunately this possibility exists. Francis Boyle whose background includes an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, and a law degree and a Ph. D in political science from Harvard. In an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola he gave his impressions of what might be going on with Covid-19, after working for decades advocating against the use of bioweapons. Boyle was the one who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush Sr. Most people would be surprised to know that Wuhan City where Covid-19 originated has a BSL-4 lab which has been specifically set up to research coronaviruses and SARS and is less than 10 miles from the seafood market where the outbreak occurred. China isn’t the only country developing biological weapons. According to Boyle the U.S. has spent 100 billion dollars between the years of 2011-2015 on biological warfare programs while employing about 13,000 scientists in the biowarfare industry. Here is a link to the interview https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/03/08/dr-francis-boyle-bioterrorism.aspx
Also, an article that appeared in The Scientist on November 16, 2015 talked about Ralph Baric, an infectious disease researcher at the University of No. Carolina at Chapel Hill. The article referred to his team’s efforts to engineer a virus with the surface protein of the SHC014 coronavirus found in horseshoe bats in China, and the backbone of one that causes human-like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in mice. The hybrid virus could infect human airway cells and cause disease in mice according to the team’s results which were published in Nature Medicine. The results show the ability of the SHC014 surface protein to bind and infect human cells, validating concerns that this virus-or other corona viruses found in bat species may be capable of making the leap to people without first evolving in an intermediate host. Simon Wain-Hobson a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris said, “if the new virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory”. This kind of research called gain of function studies was supposed to stop in 2013 because of the risk of such work. However, at Baric’s urging the government allowed continuation because his study had begun before the moratorium had started. However, Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, which samples viruses from animals and people in emerging disease hotspots across the world said. “these results move this virus from a candidate emerging pathogen to a clear and present danger”. If you want to read this article, see this link: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502
Paradoxically, Ralph Baric now leads a team of 30 researchers who at this very moment is trying to gain insight into how to kill this virus.