LTC Gurbachan Singh (BSc Microbiology and Biochemistry)
The most important strategies against covid19 involve not panicking or overreacting to the covid19 crisis. It is not the end of the world and it is not something the human race cannot overcome. The key is to keep healthy, eat well and hydrated, have a good rest and do not do anything to weaken your immune system. Taking less caffeine (coke or coffee) and alcohol may be a good idea because caffeine has a tendency of quickly depleting the body’s energy(ATP) to give you the sudden burst of energy but it may also leave the body weaker and vulnerable in the aftermath. Alcohol is diuretic and therefore cause the loss of body water. Generally keeping hydrated is critical to reducing susceptibility to infections
Latest Facts (References are listed below)
- Covid19 proteins and genome are 85% similar to 2009 SARS.
- Symptoms appear to be less severe than SARS
- Longer incubation period than SARS and can spread faster
- Most people will recover
- Most vulnerable are elderly, health workers, smokers and those with weaker immune systems or with other illnesses. Death of a few young Chinese doctors need further investigations
- It is a pneumonia-like respiratory disease that could go undetected through traditional flu diagnosis – X-rays. Typical ground-glass opacities in the lungs not detectable in the first few days of infection.
- The main cause of death is lack of oxygen intake that eventually destroys the internal organs.
The incubation period of between 7 to 14 days implies that the coronavirus could spread more easily and infect many more people without being detected and in a short period of time.
It is not as deadly as SARS, especially for those who are generally healthy.
Donald Trump’s Decisive Actions
To a great extend President Trump’s quick actions to ban flights from China have helped contain the spread of the virus in the United States. His decisiveness has given health agencies the lead time to prepare for the worst. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and the Democratic party keep blaming President Trump for the perceived lack of emergency response to the crisis. FactCheck by Associated Press has also confirmed that the funding for the Centre for Disease Control has in fact increased under the Trump’s presidency.
Government strategies against covid19
- Focus on the most vulnerable – old and those with pre-existing illnesses
- Exploit SARS remedies – most promising is a trial in Israel that will involve oral intake. In general, Israel is less restrictive compared to the FDA governed Nebraska clinical trials and the Chinese government may need the vaccines as soon as possible. The urgency at this point of time necessitates fast-tracking the trials.
- Ramp up other covid19 specific remedies and clinical trials – weeks and not months – the key is to enhance protection rather than keep chasing every infection with tests
- Explore simpler remedies like asthmatic puffs, nebulizers, economical BiPAP/respirators
- Ramp up mass production of masks and respirators. While the shortfall of the mask makes it necessary to prioritize for health workers, I disagree that healthy people should not wear masks. The reason is that those who may be carrying the virus and show no symptoms could also spread it. It is correct that the mask is not full-proof but at this point of time, at least for the most vulnerable, reducing exposure even by 10 per cent is better than nothing. I disagree with some doctors on the cable news networks who claim that masks could increase infection because of the regularly touching of the face with the hands. Once the vaccines or immune therapies are developed and implemented, masks should only be for those most vulnerable.
- Governments should consider ramping up development of cheap off-shelf respirators/Bipaps that could become household first-aid items, thereby relieving the hospitals to handle the more serious and vulnerable cases.
Strategies for families/Individuals
- Identify the most vulnerable within the household and isolate them or provide them with protections
- Keep healthy by reducing stress, eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly and doing some breathing exercises
- Minimise expose by cutting back on large events and use masks whenever necessary
- For those who can afford it and are vulnerable(asthmatic), they should discuss with their physicians to explore whether it is worthwhile to purchase a low-cost portable respirator, Bipap or nebuliser, just as a precaution. Once infected, the key is to make sure that the body continues to receive vital oxygen. Until the body is able to naturally fight back the virus pathogens, the aim is to minimize the impact of the pneumonia-like symptoms.
Just one surface or spike protein of covid19 and SARS has a match of more 77% of their RNA and protein sequence. Anyone can run this check at NCBI website.
Protein alignment for the first 1 to 150 amino acids shows about 85% match.