A Brief Change in Focus
As both domestic and international travel are essentially at a standstill, I would like to discuss our current pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus-2019 (nCoV-19 or COVID-19). I am sending positive thoughts for everyone to remain safe and healthy during this pandemic. This blog post will assist you in understanding COVID-19, the symptoms, risk of contracting, and some scientifically proven ways to prevent developing the COVID-19 illness.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that “knowledge is the antidote to fear.” This quote definitely appeals to our current pandemic- COVID-19. As I enjoy more time home avoiding any major travel, I feel the need to share some frequently asked questions about COVID-19.
Our lives have been interrupted with the goal of decreasing further spread of this deadly virus. Keep in mind the symptoms of nCoV-19 or COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Considering the length of time from exposure to symptoms is what makes this virus more difficult to manage worldwide.
Please refer to the CDC’s guidelines for more information concerning the symptoms
What Is The Coronavirus?
nCoV-19 or COVID‐19 is the third known zoonotic coronavirus disease after Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). As nCOV-19 is known scientifically, it is a form of SARS-CoV2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and is responsible for the current outbreak and pandemic. Of course, don’t confuse this with the same virus responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2002-03. So why COVID-19? This is the name given to the disease that arise after being infected with nCoV-19. You can refer to this new viral illness as nCoV-19 or COVID-19.1
Can I Take Antibiotics for COVID-19?
The answer here might seem logical, but perhaps reiterating that antibiotics are for bacteria infections. Viruses such as the current novel CoV-19 (nCoV-19) are another beast. This means Antibiotics DO NOT work on viruses. In fact, overuse of antibiotics in an attempt to treat a viral sicknesses can lead to diseases caused by bacteria becoming resistant (able to fight back) our current antibiotics. My advise here is to follow your healthcare provider’s advice on the best course of action for a disease treatment and do not self medicate or use old medications.
Will A Vaccine be Available Soon?
It can take between 18-24 months to develop a safe and effective vaccine for any new illness such COVID-19. Sometimes, it can take longer depending on initial clinical trial results. A good example of how long it can take to develop a vaccine for a viral illness is the one being investigated to fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) led to a failed attempt at a vaccine. In 2009, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease saw potential promise of a vaccine to prevent HIV infections. The caveat here is to not solely rely on a vaccine for nCoV-19 (COVID-19). Instead, follow the CDC’s guidelines for decreasing the spread of this life-threatening and proven deadly virus.
Who Is Most At-Risk?
Everyone is at risk of contradicting nCoV-19 and developing symptoms caused by this coronavirus. Research continues to show that nCoV-19 currently has a lower mortality rate (is killing fewer people) than SARS (2002-03) or MERS (2012)2. However, those who are most at-risk of developing advanced complications from nCoV-19 (i.e., COVID-19) are our elderly and anyone with an underlying medical condition. If you have such medical conditions as heart disease, a chronic lung disease, or have diabetes, these chronic condition places one in high risk for complications caused by NCoV-19.3 Children don’t appear to be developing severe symptoms from COVID-19, but they can still carry the disease from one person to another.4
One concern is that nCoV-19 appears to have a much higher transmission rate than the SARS of 2002-2003. This means that nCoV-19 is spread very easily. Please follow current recommendations by your local and national governmental authority employing a high level of caution to decrease the spread of nCoV-19.
A viral illness caused by COVID-19 can lead to ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). In some cases of serious respiratory distress, healthcare providers have observed something called ground-glass opacity in the lungs, which indicates fluid in the lungs or thickening of the internal lining2. It is too early to known if the current coronavirus disease caused by nCoV-19 will lead to long term lung damage2.
How Long Before Symptoms Appear?
According to current research on nCoV-19, demonstrates that the incubation time (the time to clinical symptoms) is about 5 days. Most individuals will show symptoms by the end of 14 days after exposure5. Thus, the rationale for a 14 day quarantine. An individual not being aware of their exposure due to the long incubation period, is one reason why NCoV-19 is more contagious than previous coronavirus outbreaks.
If you think that you had exposure to COVID-19, the safest thing to do during this pandemic is to self-isolate for at least 14 days. Please keep in mind that is you develop any clinical symptoms of nCoV-19 (a fever, dry cough or shortness of breath) your quarantine starts over again1.
One scary research finding is that an individual who has been exposed to nCoV-19 can be contagious for up to 40 days.6
How Do I protect Myself and Others?
The number one precaution to take during this pandemic protecting one from the nCoV-19 is good hand hygiene. Washing your hands with soap and very warm water can decrease the chances of contracting nCoV-19. Any soap will do for washing one’s hand. An excellent article in the New York Times discusses Why Soap Works?
Other ways to prevent this coronavirus disease is good cleaning of your environment. If you need a list of cleaning agents that work for nCoV-19, look to the EPA
Other options that you might have around the house include7:
- Sodium hypochlorite (Bleach): 0.1%
- Alcohol (ethyl or isopropyl/rubbing alcohol): 62-71%
- Hydrogen peroxide: 0.5%
To Wear or Not To Wear?
You might have noticed people wearing a mask around you and wonder should I be doing the same thing? The principle behind wearing a surgical or particulate (N-95) masks in public might seem like a great idea, but this is problematic. Here is a quick rationale: as you take off or adjust the mask nCoV-19 can jump from your hands to a mucous membrane. It is note that masks are still a good idea for individuals with immune disorder or our wonderful healthcare professionals. Taking away much needed masks to use on your own in the public without a true clinical reason is taking an impact on the healthcare system by decreasing the supply of part of the personal protective equipment (PPE).
According to World Health Organization (WHO), wearing a mask is not enough to completely protect others from nCoV-19.8 Wash those hands or use hand sanitizer.
I hope this advise helps you in better understanding nCoV-19 and COVID-19. Please stay safe and healthy.
- Sun, P., Lu, X., Xu, C., Sun, W., & Pan, B. (2020). Understanding of COVID‐19 based on current evidence. Journal of Medical Virology. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25722
- Bernheim, A., Zhu, WJ, T., JF, C., Huang, LT, P., … Hansell DM. (2020, February 20). Chest CT Findings in Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19): Relationship to Duration of Infection. Retrieved from https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/10.1148/radiol.2020200463
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020, March 12). If You Are at Higher Risk. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
- World Health Organization (WHO) (2020, March 13). Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) when COVID-19 disease is suspected-interim guidance. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/331446
- Lauer, S. A., Grantz, K. H., Bi, Q., Jones, F. K., Zheng, Q., Meredith, H. R., … Lessler, J. (2020). The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application. Annals of Internal Medicine. doi: 10.7326/m20-0504
- Zhou, F., Yu, T., Du, R., Fan, G., Liu, Y., Liu, Z., … Cao, B. (2020). Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(20)30566-3
- Kampf, G., Todt, D., Pfaender, S., & Steinmann, E. (2020). Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents. Journal of Hospital Infection, 104(3), 246–251. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.01.022
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020, March 14). Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Protective Equipment. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-use-faq.html