We’re being bombarded with information about it. And because nothing (not even viruses!) spreads as fast as misinformation, I’d like to answer the questions I’ve heard and set the facts straight.
I want to give you as much knowledge as possible on the status of the coronavirus and steps you can take to protect yourself from this, as well as any other virus. Because the information is changing so rapidly, I’ll be updating this article as I know more.
What is the Coronavirus and Where did it Come From?
First, a lesson in naming. The new virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2. The illness it causes has been named COVID-19. It’s also called the “novel coronavirus” because it’s a new, or novel, virus.
All viruses are microscopic biological agents that consist of a nucleic acid (usually RNA and sometimes DNA) encased in a protein. Those nucleic acids are the same building blocks we have in our bodies. A virus inserts itself directly inside a host’s cells and replicates rapidly.
Coronaviruses, including this new one, have spike-like structures that resemble a crown. That’s where the “corona” part comes in. The protein spikes of the crown enable the virus to attach to our cells. At least one of the reasons the SARS-CoV-2 is different than all other coronaviruses is because it has a unique spike protein. This particular protein has a site on it which is activated by a host-cell enzyme called furin.
Furin is found in lots of human tissues, including the lungs, liver, and small intestines. According to Li Hua, a biologist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, this could mean the virus can attack multiple organs. That finding could explain some of the symptoms observed in people with the coronavirus, such as liver failure.
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Generally, once you have been exposed to a virus, your body recognizes it. The next time you come into contact with it, your immune system protects you from it. This is why once you’ve had chickenpox, you won’t get it again.
There are 219 different viruses known to infect humans, not including this new variant. These range from the four that cause the common cold (and these are all in the human coronavirus family), to ones that cause warts and cold sores, to more serious ones such as HIV, smallpox, and Ebola.
New viruses arise in two different ways:
1. Antigenic Drift
Antigenic drift describes a change in a virus’s antigens (an antigen is what activates your immune system) that happens in increments over time. These small changes produce viruses that are closely related to one another. However, as the virus changes, your body may no longer recognize it.
For example, you can get the seasonal flu every year because as the virus moves around the world from person to person, it changes a tiny bit. By the time it gets back to you, it may be so different that your body no longer recognizes it.
2. Antigenic Shift
An antigenic shift is an abrupt, significant change in a virus that results in a new protein structure. Although it’s not necessarily the only way it happens, an antigenic shift can occur when a virus that normally infects only animals crosses the animal-human barrier. This is how Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), for example, came into being.
Antigenic shifts happen very rarely. In fact, it’s only happened four times in about the last 100 years: 1918, 1957, 1963, and 2009. However, when an antigenic shift does happen, the virus tends to infect many people because most of the population has little or no immunity to the new virus.
This coronavirus outbreak is the result of an antigenic shift. It existed in animals first, then made the leap to humans. In this case, researchers think it was transmitted from a bat to a person in Wuhan, China. From there, the virus has been transmitted from one person to another.
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How Contagious is Coronavirus?
How easily an illness caused by a virus spreads varies. Some viruses, such as the rubella virus that causes measles, can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the room, making it one of the most highly contagious viruses, with an RO of 12-18. The RO, or reproduction number of an illness, represents the number of people each infected person then infects. Estimates of the R0 of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) have been placed at anywhere from 2 to 3.11, making it far less contagious than measles and more contagious than seasonal flu, with a typical R0 of 1.3.
Although there is still much more to learn, scientists believe coronavirus is spread from person to person among close contact, probably no farther than about 6 feet. It’s believed to spread mainly via respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is how most other respiratory illnesses spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It’s not yet clear if coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can be spread by a person touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. It is safest to assume this is possible. There is also growing evidence that the virus can appear in feces and be spread via the fecal-oral route.
However, there is no evidence that the virus can be spread from products or packaging that’s been shipped from an affected area.5 So it should be perfectly safe to open your mail and pick up your groceries.
With most respiratory viruses, people are likely to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic, that is when they’re the sickest. However, the evidence is mounting that COVID-19 may be able to spread the virus to others before they develop symptoms. That’s why travel from China and from Europe has been temporarily suspended, although Americans abroad will be able to return home.
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How Many People Have Died from the Coronavirus?
The coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic, that is, a worldwide epidemic, on March 11. Most patients (80%) experience mild illness. Those at greatest risk of severe complications, including death, are older than 60 years of age and already have another illness. Currently, the mortality rate is estimated at about 3%.
The virus has spread to 143 countries and territories. Of the more than 153,517 cases of COVID-19, 5,735 people have died and more than 71,715 have recovered. Most of those deaths (3,204) have been in China. I certainly don’t mean to make light of that number as every one of those people was just like you and me, with a family, friends, and hopes for the future.
As of March 15, there are more than 2,815 cases in the US. Fifty-nine of those, most of which occurred within two counties in Washington state, have been fatal.
As a reference, the CDC estimates that between 32 and 45 million people in the US alone contracted the seasonal flu between October 2019 and the end of February 2020. This resulted in 310,000 to -540,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 to 45,000 deaths during that five-month period. In 2018, the last year for which there was complete data, the World Health Organization reported 140,000 deaths from measles.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
At this time, researchers believe the coronavirus symptoms may appear in as little as 2 days or as many as 14 days after exposure. If you have traveled to an affected area in the last two weeks, live with someone who has, or been in contact with someone who developed the illness, and you develop any of the symptoms listed below, contact your Quantum Techniques Practitioner to test you for exposure and to clear any blocks on your immune system.
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath7
- Sputum (mucus) production
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
- In severe cases:
- kidney failure
- Liver damage
These symptoms can be very mild throughout the illness or they can progress to cause severe respiratory problems including death. COVID-19 can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be mistaken for a cold or flu. A lab test will be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
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What Should I Do if I Think I’m Sick?
First, let me reassure you that the current risk of contracting the virus in the US — and indeed, in most of the world — is very low. If you have not traveled to any area where the virus is active or been in contact with anyone who has, then you are in an extremely low risk group.
On March 13, a state of emergency was declared in the US. That opens the door to $50 billion in additional funds to fight this virus. It also supports each state in their individual emergency plans and lets hospitals activate any emergency action plans if needed.
There’s positive news today. According to the CD, of the limited number of people who have been tested in the US only about 2% have actually tested positive for the coronavirus. The vast majority have other respiratory issues including colds, flu, and allergies.
In the meantime, if you meet any of the criteria above, stay at home except to get medical care and follow the precautions below to help control the spread. Remember, these are good precautions to follow any time you have a contagious illness, including the seasonal flu.
Call ahead. Contact your doctor’s office to see if any special precautions need to be set up to prevent workers or other patients from catching the virus.
Isolate yourself. This is a 3-parter.
Keep away from people, including the rest of your family and any pets or farm animals, as much as possible.
Wear a face mask if you must be with other people.
If you have more than one bathroom in your home, designate one for the person who is ill and the other for everyone else.
Don’t share. Reserve utensils, dishes, blankets or towels for the person who is ill and sanitize them in hot water after each use.
Become a clean freak. Have all “high-touch” surfaces including countertops, doorknobs, faucets, keyboards, remotes, etc. cleaned thoroughly and regularly.
Cough and sneeze under cover. Practice good hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away in a lined trash bin and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean them with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
NOTE: If you can’t find hand sanitizer, you can make it by mixing ⅔ cup isopropyl alcohol and ⅓ cup aloe vera gel.
Wash, touch, wash. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer, rubbing your hands together until they feel dry. If you must touch your eyes, nose or mouth, do it after you’ve washed your hands. Then wash your hands again.
What My Family and I Are Doing to Prevent Coronavirus
Even with all our modern advances, the best treatment is prevention. That’s especially true for a new virus such as SARS-CoV-2. This is one place where functional medicine and conventional medicine — including the Centers for illness Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization — agree.
My family and I will continue our daily lives unless closures or restrictions are put in place, or unless we believe we have been exposed. Even if you are in a low-risk group, I urge you to stay informed and respect any restrictions such as self-quarantine. If you contract the virus, you may have a mild case but you can transmit the virus to someone who develops a severe case.
Until we know more, my family and I are taking the following precautions because the best way to avoid any contagious illness is to limit your exposure.
Avoid regions where the virus has been found.
Respect any travel restrictions or quarantine instructions.
Practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly (and I mean your whole hand — not just your fingers!) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Prepare food at home as much as possible.
Stay away from people who are obviously ill.
Urge older family members or those in poor health to refrain from traveling or attending large gatherings during the outbreak.
Use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash.
Those in good health are more likely to stave off illness and/or recover quickly, so support your immune system and your overall health with fresh, organic foods. Choose grass-fed meats, organic chicken and wild-caught fish. Eat a wide array of organic produce and avoid toxic and inflammatory foods including gluten, dairy, highly processed foods, alcohol, and sugar.
As you know, your gut is the home to your immune system, so ensuring a healthy gut is critical in boosting your immune response. Collagen from bone broth is full of amino acids and peptides that help maintain and promote optimal gut lining health. The cells lining your intestinal tract absolutely love this stuff! Bone broth is a comforting treat, just like a bowl of homemade chicken soup. It’s a simple and delicious way to nurture your gut.
Vitamin D3 is essential for supporting healthy immune system function, yet nearly half of all Americans are deficient in this critical nutrient. Vitamin D works hand in hand with your body to modulate immune activity. Many immune cells have receptors for vitamin D. This means that vitamin D plays a big role in modulating both innate and adaptive immune responses.
One of the other major factors impacting our health is our stress level. I’ve said many times that we can never avoid stress completely, yet we can learn to manage it. Eating an optimal diet and getting enough sleep will both help ease stress.
When you’re under constant stress, your body’s supply of the master detoxifier, glutathione, can be rapidly depleted. Glutathione is the body’s ultimate free radical scavenger. It’s critical for coordinating the activity of antioxidants in your cells. The power of vitamin C, vitamin E, and even the free radical fighters CoQ10 and ubiquinol are all coordinated by appropriate glutathione levels.
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Please take extra precautions during this time to ensure the health of yourself and your family. Stay informed about what is happening in your community, and stay positive about your ability to take control of your health.
I’ve already seen some crazy prices in stores and online as many retailers are increasing prices on hygiene essentials and products for immune support.
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If you need help with Corona like symptoms contact Dr Carolee Johnson for a session. firstname.lastname@example.org New clients just fill out a session request form at the following link.