Everyone is talking about the novel coronavirus disease (abbreviated COVID-19). The virus that causes this disease is named “SARS-CoV-2”. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses from various animal species, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. In rare cases, animal coronaviruses can infect humans, like the current SARS-COV-2 has. The epicenter of the outbreak has been linked to the large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China (part of the Hubei Province).
Is the new coronavirus deadly?
The mortality of the COVID-19 is thought to be about 1-3 percent, based on articles in NEJM and World Health Organization Situation Reports. That would put it on par with the 1918 Spanish flu, a pandemic that killed 2% of the world’s population. Two percent of the world is 150 million people. That’s an insane number. Compared this to the common flu which has a mortality of 0.1%.
Korea is reporting a mortality of about 0.5%, but they have also been extremely aggressive in public health measures. In contrast, Italy is reporting a mortality of 6-7%.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of coronavirus are like any cold/flu:
- fever, fatigue, dry cough, respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties
About 14 percent develop severe disease, including pneumonia and difficulty breathing. About 5% have critical disease requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) stays, including respiratory failure, septic shock and multiple organ failure.
Is the coronavirus contagious? How does it spread?
The coronavirus is extremely contagious. The reproductive number is 3 (but has been reported to be as high as 6!) This means that one infected person can spread it to at least 3 others.
The disease mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or exhales. It can also be transmitted via contaminated surfaces (where it can live a few hours to several days).
What can we do about it?
- Wash your hands: The best way to ward of diseases is to wash your hands, according to the CDC. Wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm water and soap (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) before preparing food or eating, as well as after using bathroom or touching public surfaces.
- Disinfect Surfaces: Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces you touch frequently
- Avoiding touching your face: Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands can increase your exposure to external viruses
- If you’re sick, stay home: get optimal sleep, rest, and fluids for fastest recovery and to prevent transmission to others
- Cover your cough or sneeze: Best to cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throwing the tissue away.
- Vaccinate! If you have not done so yet, get your FLU SHOT! — it would really suck to catch both the flu AND coronavirus at the same time. Additionally, if your body is first weakened by another virus, it would be more susceptible to the coronavirus.
- Keep warm: Bundle up! Keep your whole body warm, especially your neck, stomach, legs, and feet.
- Sleep: Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you do not sleep, your gut bugs do not sleep; therefore your immune system suffers. Your microbiome is critical to optimal function of your immune system.
- Exercise: Moderate intensity and varied exercise (30 minutes daily) will help improve your immune system. Of note, vigorous activity like running may weaken your immune function and leave your immune system more susceptible for attack.
- Stress Reduction: Manage stress through meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, drawing, writing, singing, or any modality that helps you. A good place to start is 4-7-8 breathing.
How do we decrease spread of coronavirus?
Social distancing! The CDC defines social distancing as “remaining out of group settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (about 6 feet) from others.”
Social distancing behaviors can occur on large scales or individual scales. Many things have closed down in the US and around the world (such as schools, events, companies). However, it is also important to avoid crowded spaces (such as bars and grocery stores) and limit get-togethers (like birthday parties and play dates).
Why is social distancing a good thing during pandemics?
The goal is the “flatten the curve”. Effective public health measures can mean that the number of people infected will be much lower, thereby not overwhelming the healthcare system. If the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed, people will not get adequate care and may die. This affects people of ALL ages as non-coronavirus patients who need medical care may not get it if resources are diverted (trauma victims, cancer patients, children, pregnant patients, etc).
Our healthcare system is barely able to cope with a bad flu season, let alone a pandemic!
The most altruistic thing you can do: maintain your social distance.
How can we treat coronavirus disease?
There is no vaccine or medication that treats coronavirus disease.
There are things that may help boost your immune system so that you have the best fighting chance. All these components have been shown in some research studies to be effective for colds and flu, while boosting your immune system. Remember to discuss with your physician prior to starting any supplements.
All these supplements are not the same as having a complete, plant-based, whole foods diet, stress relief, moderate exercise, keeping your vaccinations up-to-date, and sleep. If you want to find a cure all to all your illnesses and maladies, a balanced lifestyle is the only way!
Check out the immunity mushroom soup recipe, using medicinal mushrooms that is delicious and nutritious!
The information is for educational purposes ONLY. Although I am a physician, the information here is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I can only render treatment recommendations if I see you in person and know your medical history.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.