Home News Coronavirus Covid-19: Dr. Tom’s Thoughts – Part III

Covid-19: Dr. Tom’s Thoughts – Part III

Biological Sampling of Covid-19
Biological Sampling of Covid-19

Howdy Folks- So no matter what I say here it probably won’t calm your nerves, but I promise I’ll do my best in this post. I’m writing this before I got to work today…

Fear of Covid-19

So this is truly unprecedented times. We are living in an age where we have SOOOOO much information at our fingertips and it coming so fast it can overwhelm. And that’s not just for you and me. That’s for the folks in charge. When I wrote last about a month ago, I told you not to fear. That we are dealing with a virus that isn’t going to kill the majority of people. That you will probably get sick, but you will probably not get horribly sick [ie critical].

For those in my direct facebook circle, especially those who contacted me personally, I still stand by that statement. If this goes out further, I stand by that statement to most- please note I didn’t fathom my post being shared more than to a friend of a friend and yet much like this virus it went 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon [I wonder if it reached him?] Anyhow…

So because of all this info you’ve seen society react with crazy fear [TP shortage, medicine shortage, PASTA shortage?!] in the few ways they feel they can control the world around them. And because of that, these major nations have paid attention and realized that if they don’t react and be proactive this is going to get worse. And I’m not talking about the virus, I’m talking about you and people around you. Whether you have reached the panic level or not, you might still.

Covid-19: Flatten the Curve
Covid-19: Flatten the Curve

Covid-19: Flatten the Curve

A Covid-19 phrase or a meme you have been seeing is ‘Flatten the curve’. And my two previous posts have been all about that., but not being able to find the right & simple way to say it. If you can prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed by masses of sick and non-sick then you can deal with the problem in a rash way.

Hubei, China, and Northern Italy are unfortunate examples of what happens when you can’t. Whatever region an outbreak starts in any country, much less the WORLD that region gets overwhelmed and they get no choice, Hubei, China, of course, shows that. China reacted how it had to because as we have been learning there are extra factors to this virus that was unknown until after lots of studies could be run on the data we had. [I’ll get to some science points soon]. Italy, unfortunately, has probably the largest 65+ aging population per population, in the world. Again adding to problems that occur when a sudden outburst of infection happens.

So what science have a read about recently that changes things, well how this Covid-19 virus acts. Well unlike documented coronaviruses before it, it spreads before you ever get symptoms. It’s this difference in a way that was unexpected and is what is the problem. I know you’ve read in news articles a brief mention of this- ie people are spreading this virus before they know they are sick- and think yeah, so what? I’ve always thought that. But this is different even for most normal cold viruses. Let me try to explain.

When you are catching a cold virus, generally you have an incubation period. During that period your body is making a virus that will get you sick. At some point during that, you begin to show symptoms. Most times, even when you first start to show symptoms you produce some virus in your snot, mucus, etc. And yes you may be able to get other folks sick, but it’s unlikely. As the cold progresses, you begin to make higher amounts of virus, and that’s generally when you are your highest point of infection and ability to infect others. But you, of course, have realized this and do your best [or so those around you hope] to prevent spreading your personal virus.

As your cold progresses you still make virus but slowly you begin to shed less of that virus and have less ability to infect others. At some point, you feel normal again, and in general, you can’t infect others unless they are sucking face with you.

Covid-19 Infected Patient in Quarantine
Covid-19 Infected Patient in Quarantine

How is Covid-19 Different?

In a published report that came out in the first week of March, it detailed that the CoVID-19 virus produces levels of virus that is 1000 times more than the amounts seen from SARS. Okay, that in virus load terms is HUGE, like we’ve not seen this type of numbers huge. But the other big deal is they discovered, thanks to some luck of these 9 patients, that it happens by day 4 of infection. That is at LEAST 1 day before the first symptom has manifested. That could also be up to 2 or 3 days before someone who isn’t looking for symptoms to realize they have symptoms.

Added to this, this virus produces at levels well above the normal coronavirus levels for nearly 2 weeks, and it may produce longer.

How does that matter- well if you don’t know you are sick and you around masses of people you have a better chance of infecting masses of people. Remember how we’ve been talking, prior to all this, about herd immunity? How you need to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of measles, diphtheria, rubella, etc. How by the infected person not being able to infect those around them it doesn’t get back to those most vulnerable? So those whose bodies might not react the best way don’t have to fight this infection? THAT’s why this matters.

Most don’t intend to make others sick. They want to prevent it. But how can you do that when you don’t even realize you are that infectious in the first place. That you may not even get the sniffles for 3 or 4 days but are acting like typhoid Mary.

A phrase you will have already heard but will begin to hear more is that this is the most VIRULENT strain documented of the coronavirus.

WHO introduced a new official name for Coronavirus disease named Covid-19
WHO introduced a new official name for Coronavirus disease named Covid-19

Should you worry about the Covid-19?

With all this extra virus that it is producing mean it’s more deadly to you?

The general population? Again, not really. It still follows the same pattern I mentioned in that it gives you a fever or most would say a ‘cold’ [Okay we should say fever as you’ll have a temperature, but let’s be honest most folks don’t distinguish between fever and colds anymore that way]. An upper respiratory bug. For the vast majority of people that means a fever, coughing, flem, and at times some heavy breathing through that flem. But because this thing is producing massive amounts of virus you feel bad. It’s why if this hadn’t been discovered and noted many would think they have the flu [but wouldn’t have the horrible joint pain that comes with the flu].

But much like the flu, this is deadly for certain folks [again those above 70 years of age, but seems to be trending more in the 80s if they don’t have underlying conditions]. How deadly? Still yet to be really decided. I’m not going to state ‘solid’ numbers here because different countries have different rates. And that’s going to hold true for everywhere. South Korea despite having the 3rd highest cases and having a large population over the age of 65, has a death rate of around 0.5%. One of the lowest in the world. But Italy, as you know, has a high death rate (~6%) with a much older population (I don’t have facts, but here are likely reasons for this I don’t have time to explain now).

– Okay, side fact here to try and get folks to not argue about this… yes, that rate is HIGHER than the seasonal flu and no matter how you try to do the math this will continue to be a higher PERCENTAGE. But in terms of TOTAL death count, it is less than seasonal flu… at this point. And if we keep doing the right things, it will hopefully remain that way. And let me get back to why… –

So does this mean if you are over 65 you should start planning for the worst? NO, NO, and NO!

Are you more likely to get a worse cold than the rest? Yes, it seems so. But assuming you haven’t been a heavy smoker, not currently battling illness, and not struggling with other problems. You should be okay. You need to be aware of problems and get yourself to a doctor before it gets bad so you can get a REAL medical opinion.

Now back to the big picture here and What the Flip?! [as my son loves to say] is going on with the world shutting down everything.

Negative test result by using rapid test device for COVID-19
Negative test result by using rapid test device for COVID-19

Covid-19 Spreads Before We Even Know We Have It

I told you above that this virus spreads before we even know we have it. It appears to have the ability to spread at an unprecedented rate if it goes unchecked. In Hubei, China [the province, not just the city where this started] it reaches roughly 1 in every 850 people in that province. That was with SEVRE quarantining. It isn’t possible to do that in free countries [nor should it be]. But if you don’t want to overwhelm the medical system, you must find ways to control the spread. Again for the VAST majority of the public, this will not do any more harm than a bad cold- but the fear is now there. People will be clogging up the hospitals and taking away care from those who truly need it.

So you have to begin to ‘Flatten the curve’. And that’s what the government did. But if you own and control public gatherings, you are open to lawsuits. And that’s why we are now seeing unprecedented closures of events and gatherings. There is no choice because this virus is coming everywhere. It is a pandemic [should not be scary word, it doesn’t mean death, it’s about how it spreads]. And everyone has a responsibility to try to slow down it’s spread.

Covid-19 Spread, Symptoms and Prevention
Covid-19 Spread, Symptoms and Prevention

Change is Scary

Change is scary folks. But knowledge and understanding of why this is happening is power.

Wash your hands- but don’t overdo it as you can chafe and hurt your skin by doing it too much, opening yourself to other problems [again not deadly ones!].

Don’t look to kill other folks who are sick- I know folks who have common colds [ie no fever] who don’t need to worry [ie they don’t have coronavirus] but will sure as hell get treated like they are death on feet.

There is overreaction going on now, but it’s not over. This is going to be a 2-month battle. Yes, 2 months before it starts to get better. Hold on and try not to kill your family you are cooped up with.

Back sometime soon with better info

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Biological Sampling of Covid-19