Why a blog post about the Corona virus? Because I mentioned on Facebook that I was looking for people in other areas of the world to find out more about the situation and many people were curious to know what I found.
Because I have lived through many pandemic fears over the last few decades, I have become skeptical every time the mainstream media sensationalizes everyone into a panic over the "next Spanish Flu".
One of the most over-blown panics was over the West Nile Virus. It is well known now that it is not something we need to worry about very much. It rarely kills anyone in the U.S. and very few people even have a reaction to it. Yet, at the time it was spreading across the U.S., media headlines would have made one think society was on the brink of collapse and fatalities were going to stack up in state after state.
We have also made it through variations of the swine flu, the bird flu, SARS, MERS, several ebola outbreaks, a hanta virus scare, and many more - some more serious than others.
So what about the Corona virus?
As many of you know, in my spare time I support health and rejuvenation efforts around the world, so I have made many contacts at various research institutions, labs, and non-profits. So when the Corona virus fears ramped-up, I went looking for answers. I wanted to know if it was just another seasonal flu or West Nile Virus being blown out of proportion.
Early reports out of China made it seem like the "end of the world". Unfortunately, due to the communist government's tight control of information in China, verifying mortality rates, infection rates, and degree of spread, is very difficult.
What about outside China? It is spreading fast all over the world so there is a lot more reliable data now. Iran and Italy have been the hardest hit with the highest mortality rates. I wanted to hear from someone on the ground in Italy to confirm what was being reported in U.S. media outlets. I did eventually get a summary of the situation in northern Italy from an acquaintance. This person said that it is similar to other areas where the virus has occurred - the largest portion of people dying from the virus are elderly. He reported that younger people who have been struck by the illness and develop severe symptoms have required intensive care in the hospitals, but generally recover. He said that the older patients who develop severe symptoms have not recovered.
This is similar to the situation in the U.S. If you dig into the case history of each Corona virus deaths in the U.S., you will find they all occurred among older people (70+) or the seriously ill. As health authorities have informed, most people have only mild symptoms. In some it is worse. You might recall the first reported case in New York was a younger man (in his 50s) with no serious health issues. It hit him hard and he is still recovering. His wife and kids did not suffer anything but a slight cough. All of the current cases in New York are outlined here. The person in Dane county Wisconsin who tested positive is doing well.
Corona viruses in general have been known for decades and have affected the entire world. The bad part about this version of the Corona virus is that it can be spread for a few days even before a person is showing symptoms. This means that it has probably spread a lot farther and wider than current stats show. It seems unlikely that it will be contained effectively without a massive world-wide quarantine. Perhaps it can be slowed down a bit by taking more precautions.
Because it is striking elderly populations harder, this is probably not the "next version of the Spanish Flu" (which killed all age groups), or like SARS, or like Ebola. It is more like the seasonal flu and cold - but more deadly. The nursing home in Washington where 17 people died, should serve as a stark warning.
How much worse is it than the seasonal flu? Data I found from the CDC from 2017 (page 27), indicates the seasonal flu mortality rate among those 65 and older in the U.S. was 97 per 100,000. If the Corona virus mortality rate ends up being 1% or so among the elderly, then by quick math, it would make it about 10 times worse than the seasonal flu - which would be quite devastating if it becomes widespread among elderly populations.
Many health professionals have suggested a mortality rate of 1%, and this is somewhat backed-up by the mortality rate of 1% on the first cruise ship that was infected and by the current bulk/unadjusted mortality rate in South Korea which has conducted the most widespread testing. As of today, there are 53 fatalities in South Korea with 7478 current cases - giving an unadjusted mortality rate of 0.70%
What to do? I have been arguing a bit about online about the effectiveness of harsh quarantines of entire regions. My fear is that shutting down too much travel and commerce will lead to shortages of supplies - supplies needed to keep our health care system working properly. I have suggested that putting stricter guidelines around hospitals and nursing homes would be a better option. As long as the mortality rate of younger healthy people remains very low - like the seasonal flu - then the rest of society should be able to get on with business.
You might recall that I picked-up a respiratory illness after travelling in early February (through 2 international airports, plus I was at a celebration with people who had recently traveled from Turkey, Germany, Vietnam, and Brazil). It was a fairly significant illness. I did not sound to good on TV, that is for sure. It lasted two weeks and my lungs/trachea still have not fully recovered. Could it be the Corona virus? Most likely not, but it is hard to know without a test, because it is so similar to the flu or a tough cold. One thing I am not doing is visiting people in the hospital or assisted living facilities, just in case.
Otherwise, the suggestions from health authorities about limiting the spread is good advice of course. Keeping yourself in good health is very important as well. Many doctors and epidemic specialists think it will eventually spread far and wide. If it becomes widespread in Wisconsin, you want to be healthy.
How do you promote a healthy immune system?
- Get enough sleep
- Lower your stress levels
- Eat good food. It won't kill you to eat more vegetables (and lay-off some of the sweets and treats) for the next few weeks.
- Lower your alcohol intake.
There are many natural substances that have shown anti-viral properties as well. These are not guaranteed to stop you from getting a virus or making the symptoms better, but there is some science to support the thought that they will help to some degree. I use many of them.
Lastly, for keeping track of how the Corona virus is spreading across the world, I use these two sites primarily: