Right now, everyone seems to be worried about The Virus.
I’m not. And I’ll tell you why below.
A reader sent this to me recently:
“Anyway, I think you can be a good voice to reassure fear, to educate people and to guide them out of panic to be responsible and ready. You can save lives, what a privilege you have. Doctors are awesome people. You are FULL of practical, useful info – I really think you can help people. “
I don’t deny that I’m practical. I hate it when experts and academics waffle on aimlessly about this or that. I want the what-you-can-do-right-now message and that’s it. So, here it comes.
Firstly, viruses aren’t really alive. They remain infective only for a short while outside the host body, but once they lose their infectiveness (pardon the big word – yes, I kiss my mother with that mouth), they’re as harmless as dust.
This virus, like so many of its ilk, is not very strong. A bit of sunlight kills it almost instantly. In other words, don’t worry about virus particles floating about the parking lot.
Next: Indoors is a slightly different story. The virus remains infective on surfaces, but the warmer the temperature of the surface, the shorter the time it remains infective. Over about 25 C, it doesn’t last long at all – hence we mostly get ‘flu’s and colds in winter. All the places with big outbreaks (multiple person to person transmissions) have been in the northern hemisphere, where max daytime temperatures were 15 C or less. Warmer climates have recorded cases due to travellers bringing it in, but, for the most part, this is where it stops.
Thirdly, the virus cannot travel well in humid air. The more humid the ambient air, the less likely it is to remain infective for long. In other words, rooms with dry heaters increase the chances for transmission. Air humidifiers decrease the chances for transmission. If you live close to the sea, you’re probably OK-ish.
However, wet surfaces are different. A wet surface can increase the time the virus particles remain infective. Taps in public restrooms would be an example of a wet surface that has the potential to transmit the virus intact.
But let’s be sober: Over the course of the next 3 to 5 years, this virus will likely come into contact with every human on the planet. Most of them will never get sick, but they will still get immune. They won’t even know about it. A few will get sick. And a small amount will die from the infection.
Who is in danger of severe illness and death? Those at the extremes of age (very young or very old), those who spend most of their time indoors, and those who smoke. This is not an exhaustive list, but this post is about generalisations. If you don’t fall into these categories, you’re probably safe.
Should you have a vaccine? No vaccine on earth currently protects against the coronavirus COVID-19. And since modern medical science still doesn’t have a vaccine for the common cold, don’t hold your breath that there will be an effective vaccine for COVID-19 anytime soon (you may pass out from lack of oxygen). Coronaviruses mutate, making effective vaccines hard to formulate. Even if a vaccine is formulated in the next month, it will take a long time to get to us, the common people, and it will likely only be partially effective.
So, if infection is inevitable in the medium term, what can you do to keep out of harm’s way?
Same simple things (which you should do to stay healthy anyhow):
- Get outdoors more often, especially in the sun,
- exercise moderately at least three times a week (a half-hour walk equals moderate exercise),
- eat less (or, even better: no) sugar (this weakens the immune system),
- stop smoking (or avoid second-hand smoke).
Next to sunshine and heat, oxygen is this virus’s big enemy.
By now, it is well established that Vitamin D3 protects people from ‘flu and colds better than a ‘flu shot. Most recent evidence indicates that a dosage of 5,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily is safe and effective for this purpose. Forget the Ridiculous Daily Allowance of 400 IU. That is the dose needed to prevent your bones from crumbling. I want to do more than that. Here is a good source of high dose Vit D3.
I also recommend this multivitamin syrup containing eucalyptus bark extract. It is called Phaphama (meaning “arise” or “wake up”). Eucalyptus bark is four times more potent than its better known cousin, pine bark extract when it comes to waking up the immune system. This vitality tonic is a mainstay in our household. A teaspoon a day is great to boost immunity in children. Adults do well on a tablespoon per day.
What about Vitamin C? Based on science, a daily dose of 2,000 mg seems to be a good idea to prepare for all types of respiratory infections, not just this one. Research from Helsinki (2017) indicates that a single dose of 8,000 mg Vit C, taken orally once ‘flu symptoms start, will shorten ‘flu duration by 19% and also reduce symptom severity. Indications are that higher doses may work even better. Get it in bulk here.
Should you wear a mask? If you rub shoulders with the public in a closed space, it may help a little. For the rest, less likely to be of much benefit. Bear in mind that surface transmission is more efficient than droplet transmission. So, if you’re a cashier, you are much more likely to be exposed via the cash / cards you handle than via the air you share.
But your immune system is likely also a lot more resilient, thanks to constant exposure to the latest germs.
Relax. You didn’t panic about last year’s ‘flu, and it killed about 14,000 people worldwide. Be prepared, be a tenny bit vigilant, but just get on with your life.
Please note: The above should not be considered medical advice, just some ramblings by a grumpy old doc. Don’t take health decisions without consulting your health practitioner.
Doc Frank and the Team at Integrow Health