Blog | Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Corona COVID-19 facts for you


Are you getting overwhelmed with Corona COVID-19 Virus 24/7 on the news, internet, social media and with friends? It's coming fast and furious now with more information than anyone can process. With school and restaurant closures, no sport events and many cities sheltering at home, the anxiety levels are sky high.

Well, I'm here to add more by answering questions that I have been asked about the pandemic. (This information is current as of March 19, and changes daily.)

Q: Why is everyone so worried with only 11,275 cases in the U.S. and 80% of people showing only mild illness?
A: Because it is a new human virus, nobody has protection or antibody to it. Our bodies do not have a template to defend against the virus. We have no cure and no vaccine developed to protect people. We have not been adequately testing people and we don't know the actual number of infections. The precautions are meant to slow the virus spread so our health services will not be overwhelmed with patients. The confirmed cases just doubled within 2 days in the U.S. In any biologic system, if you put a living organism into an environment where it can thrive, with unlimited resources and no competitors, it will always grow exponentially. (Definition of exponential growth: growth whose rate becomes ever more rapid in proportion to the growing total number or size). These precautions are SERIOUS and are meant to slow the growth and protect people.

Q: I have a sore throat and cough. Why can't I get tested?
A: We have limited test kits, the results turn-around time is between 4-7 days, there is a shortage of swabs, reagents and personal protective gear (PPE) for health workers, and the only testing being done is for exposed symptomatic health care workers, seriously ill patients, patients that meet the CDC protocol and have a doctor's referral, and wealthy professional ball players and congressmen.

Our lack of testing is a serious flaw and will harm our ability to control the outbreak.

Q: How is COVID different from SARs (also a coronavirus)
A: The maximum concentration of the virus is called the Peak Viral Load. That is when the person is most infectious. In SARs, the worst symptoms and the Peak Viral Load occur at the same time. In COVID-19 the peak viral load occurs days before any symptoms show up. This makes it much more contagious. Scientists are currently working on other differences to help us with management.

Q: Why should I wash my hands and wipe down surfaces with bleach?
A: Both SARs and COVID-19 viruses behave the same on solid surfaces. The investigators found that COVID is detectable in aerosols for up to 3 hours, on copper for up to 4 hours, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel. (After going to the market, wash your hands thoroughly, wash your reusable grocery bag, wash your fruits and vegetables.)

Q: How does the COVID-19 virus kill?
A: It causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) by creating inflammation and fluid that blocks the alveoli of the lungs from exchanging oxygen in the cells. We support patients with ventilators and intubation while they recover from the virus. Patients with underlying lung disease and smokers are at much more risk of serious illness and death.

Q: Does Ibuprofen put you at greater risk for becoming sicker with COVID -19?
A: There is no evidence that Ibuprofen worsens the effect of COVID-19. Tylenol is probably a better choice for reducing fever and is safer for kidneys overall but there is no danger from using Ibuprofen if you are taking it.

That's enough for today. Comment if you have any other questions about Corona COVID-19 Virus.

This post originally appeared at Everything Health. Toni Brayer, MD, FACP, is an ACP Internist editorial board member who blogs at EverythingHealth, designed to address the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st Century.