Series on COVID Therapy Studies – How it is Spread and How to Keep Safe
With the onslaught by COVID and its coinciding onslaught of self-proclaimed experts with every opinion under the sun, I choose to respond with a series of research study reports so you can choose for yourself. Each edition will bring a few studies describing possible therapies for COVID under investigation or reported in past research. As my recent Facebook Live video noted, we do not know enough about this virus to be definite at this time. I am not claiming any of these are the preventive or curative answer for you or your family’s safety. I just want you to be aware of these studies and have knowledge so that you can grow in wisdom rather than stumble about in panic.
(See appendix paragraph for further thoughts on finding effective COVID therapies)
While the primary focus of this series remains on specific therapies which may or may not prevent or treat COVID 19, attention to theory and disease mechanisms often deserve our attention. In this edition we will consider how the virus is transmitted and thus end with how to prevent this transmission. Prevention of transmission stands out as even more critical when our list of successful cures remains questionable.
Within in a week, we will look back at this post and realize it has already gone out of date. As with all aspects of this pandemic, our understanding changes almost daily. With that in mind, we urge you to look to constantly updating sites like the CDC (below) for the very latest information. Our approach will be more general as a starting point.
This enemy, a virus of the coronavirus family, like all viruses requires another cell to replicate. Other lifeforms generally provide their own enzymes to replicate and grow. To continue their existence, they must enact a mechanism to not only enter a new host, but travel between an old host and the new one. For some viruses, this path goes through stool and back into other’s mouths. For some viruses which reside in the bloodstream, that same blood must be shared by a needle or blood transfusion or intimate contact. For coronaviruses like COVID and other respiratory viruses, they must travel in the air or stuck to shared objects.
From what we know, COVID travels in droplets of respiratory discharges like coughs and sneezes. If they land on another person and enter the upper respiratory mucosa, they can begin to replicate anew. If they land on inanimate objects, they have to wait until another person touches that object. They only succeed if they avoid drying out or dying from these exposed conditions until someone picks them up. In the case of COVID 19, we are learning how long this virus remains viable (able to infect) on different surfaces. They can survive different lengths of time depending on their landing on cardboard, plastic or other surfaces. Look to the CDC or other updated site for how long each of these materials harbor viable virus.
In combatting this virus at both the individual and societal level, we must alter our behaviors to limit the spread. While we as individuals want to avoid contracting a potentially lethal disease, we also want to prevent this pandemic from incapacitating our health care system and our nation. For this reason, we keep hearing about social distancing and how to disinfect materials.
Social distancing refers to our need to keep a safe distance from others, especially those who are or might be infected. With this virus replicating in infected individuals for several days before symptoms occur, this social distancing becomes important even without symptoms. Estimates tell us to keep 6 to 9 feet away from others and to avoid gatherings more than 10 persons. Experts advise us to avoid the normal etiquette of handshakes or hugs.
Estimates on the infectivity of patients vary from country to country. UpToDate’s website quotes studies showing anywhere from a 0.45% attack rate of contacts to 5%. For a 1% attack rate, this means that a symptomatic infected person could infect one of 100 people with whom they can contact. In some cases of super-spreaders, this could be in the 100’s in the wrong setting. If we are to stop the community spread, this number needs to drop and be as close to zero as possible. My big question is how is this spreading so fast if only 1 % of contacts get the illness?
With many complaining about the limitations on our economy or expressing concerns that we are over-reacting, an understanding of this process and its necessity should quell those complaints and concerns. This virus is real. The disease is real. Media may be providing distortions of the full truth and internet prophets on both ends of the spectrum may be spouting everything under the sun, but ultimately we do need to practice social distancing as well as the next practice, quarantine.
In the days before antibiotics, social distancing and quarantining those who were sick or exposed to diseases like the plague were mankind’s only hope. Quarantine places a distance between the infected (with or without symptoms) and those who are not infected. In this situation, we must self-govern when we know we are infected and stay away from others. As a few newsworthy rogues indicate, attempting to go about your normal business after testing positive deserves forced quarantine. If you contract the virus, don’t be a fool. Listen to reason and keep yourself away from others unless you need medical care.
Our final topic in this long post touches on disinfecting our bodies or other objects which may have the virus on them. Simple handwashing for 20 seconds with regular soap appears a very effective therapy. The hysteria over hand-sanitizers is a half-truth. The sanitizers to allow us a measure of safety when handwashing is not available, but the old-fashioned handwashing appears superior. The sanitizers however can be used on other surfaces. Stay tuned to the CDC site for more information on what necessitates such sanitization. Some experts are recommending wiping down mail, delivered items, and any object that others may have touched (doorknobs, etc.).
While this has not been the most cited blog post in terms of references, the mindset of social distancing and caution it should engender stands out as our primary means to fight COVID. While this virus does not bring a guaranteed doomsday outcome, it has proven to be a lethal enemy deserving an appropriate response. I will be one of the last to choose forfeiture of American freedom to fight this enemy, yet I will be first in line to counsel all towards willing cooperation as a community and nation. We want healthier more abundant lives for all
In prayer until next time….
CDC WEBSITE FOR COVID 19
UpToDate Medical Website
One huge challenge in identifying effective therapies for COVID lies in the novelty of it all. Research requires time, something of which we have little in an emerging pandemic. We don’t have the luxury of studying 100 years of research or 10,000 past experiments. This battle requires a great deal of extrapolation. Extrapolation means that we take the little information we do have and attempt to use it in predicting what we don’t know. This process takes place every time an experiment proceeds in science, but the urgency in this case makes it more frustrating than usual. As we walk through a different possible therapy each post, keep this paragraph in mind.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.