Coronavirus Craziness: The Facts, The Hype, and What You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk of Contracting It

March 10, 2020

Before diving into the article below, check out this image I created for social media. This thing is kinda going viral (see what I did there?). Seriously though, it's been shared >900 times so far...

 

 
LIFESTYLE PLAYS THE BIGGEST ROLE IN IMMUNITY  

Your immune system (specifically your white blood cells) are designed to destroy viruses. Seventy percent (70%) of your immune system is in your gut lining. Things that are scientifically proven to boost immunity include sleep (7-9 hours of quality sleep/night is the gold standard), moderate exercise, proper hydration (drinking at least 1/2 your weight, in ounces, each day), clean eating (with an emphasis on organic veggies, proteins & fruits), good hygiene, moderate sunshine & fresh air, not smoking & not stressing out!  

 

Supplements scientifically proven to boost immunity include therapeutic doses of probiotics, prebiotics, clean protein powders (ex. grass-fed A2 whey), vitamin C (including IV and/or nebulized vitamin C), natural vitamin A, vitamin D3, zinc, elderberry extract & echinacea root (among others). Check out this previous blog for more info on immune-boosting supplements!  

 

 

CORONAVIRUS MEDIA COVERAGE IN THE U.S.

IS WAAAAAY OVERBLOWN

From Feb 26th to March 9th (the last 2 weeks) we’ve had 26 confirmed deaths & more than 620 cases of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. That’s a 4% fatality rate. In certain parts of China the fatality rate is as low as 0.2%. During those same 2 weeks we’ve had approximately 30,000 die from cardiovascular disease, 23,000 die from cancer, at least 9,500 die from medical error, 6,000 die from other acute & chronic lower respiratory diseases, nearly 5,000 die from Alzheimer’s… oh, and between 500-2,000 die from plain ole’ influenza. The fatality rates for CVD, cancer (all types), lung diseases & Alzheimer’s is around 1-3%.

 

The flu’s fatality rate is significantly lower (around 0.1%) but it spreads much more easily than coronavirus. Certain cancers are much more deadly of course, like pancreatic cancer, which kills 45,000 Americans a year (that’s >120 a day) and has a 90% fatality rate! So why isn’t the mainstream media in hysterics over the “pancreatic cancer pandemic”?

 

THOSE AT ELEVATED RISK? THOSE WITH SERIOUS PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, THE ELDERLY & HEAVY SMOKERS

Of the 26 U.S. deaths, 19 are elderly people from the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, outside Seattle. The other 7 deaths include 3 from Washington state, 2 from California and 2 from Florida. To my knowledge, all 26 victims had serious preexisting conditions (mostly respiratory) and all but 1 were >60 years old. If you go to the official COVID-19 update page www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/ you can see that the death rate for those with SARS-CoV-2 who are 10-49 years old is 0.2-0.4%. That number increases to 1-4% for those 50-69 years old and 8-22% for those over 70 years old.  

In Italy, the average age of patients with SARS-CoV-2 is 81, and the group is mostly men (73%). As coronaviruses most adversely affect the lungs, it stands to reason that heavy smokers may be at greater risk. Of the 5 countries most affected by the current coronavirus outbreak (those with >20 cases per million people), all have a per capita consumption of >900 cigarettes a year. China (at the epicenter of the outbreak) leads the way and consumes >30% of the cigarettes in the world. Oh, and ~75% of the world’s smokers are men.

 

IT’S LIKELY THAT THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS DIE EVERY YEAR WITH CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS… BUT NOW IT’S NEWS

To date we know of 7 types of coronaviruses that can infect humans. We’ve known about four types (229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1) for several decades. In 2003 we discovered SARS-CoV (remember the original SARS outbreak?) and in 2012 we discovered MERS-Cov (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, caused by another coronavirus). And at the end of last year we discovered SARS-CoV-2 (the strain which causes the disease COVID-19). All 3 of the novel coronaviruses (also called betacoronaviruses) have their origins in bats (so take bat stew off the menu forever).

 

Coronavirus infection is common in respiratory infections and disease, and has been since we’ve been studying it the last 70 years (Don’t believe me? Do a Pubmed search and check out those studies from the 1950s!). You know why you haven’t heard about coronavirus infections until now? Well, one of the reasons is that, outside of a few clinical studies, we don’t regularly test for coronaviruses. Another reason is that we are discovering new viral strains all the time (like this one).

 

In the U.S., viruses like influenza, rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have attracted more clinical attention (and regular testing), whereas viruses like adenovirus, metapneumovirus, parainfluenza and coronaviruses… not so much. But for those dealing with pneumonia, bronchitis and other acute respiratory infections (ARIs), viral infections are common and are responsible for 30-70% of ARIs. Co-infections (infections with more than 1 virus type) are exceedingly common! But if someone dies, the death certificate only lists ONE single underlying cause of death. This is important for several reasons.

 

For one, let’s say an 88 year old man who died in 2018 had a widespread pulmonary coronavirus infection (not tested for) and a less widespread but still serious influenza infection (tested for). His death cert would read INFLUENZA and not coronavirus. Secondly, with the current outbreak in mind, let’s say a different 88 year old man who just died had a serious influenza infection (tested for) and a relatively mild but present SARS-CoV-2 infection (tested for). Guess what his death cert says? Yep, it says COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 and not influenza.

 

Speaking of tests, RT-PCR tests have been developed for the SARS-CoV-2 strain and are the most common test being used for this novel coronavirus, but the test sensitivity is only 70% (tests with sensitivity ratings >90% are generally considered good to great).

 

BOTTOM LINE

Use discernment with your news and information sources. Get educated but don’t be anxious. If you’re at higher risk (ex. you’re older, are immuno-compromised and/or have a serious respiratory condition), take the steps needed to optimize your immunity, respiration and health. If you need help in that process, reach out to me. I’d love to help.  

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