Coronavirus (COVID-19): Separating Fact from Fiction
[UPDATED March 25, 2020]
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that has spread from China to all major continents. With the ever-increasing transmission of the virus and increasing concern over COVID-19, there has been a lot of misinformation circulating around the internet.
What Exactly is the Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a general term used to describe a range of viruses that cause infections in birds and mammals (1). The name coronavirus is derived from the Latin word corona, meaning “crown” — which is in reference to the shape of coronaviruses when examined under a microscope.
There have been six coronaviruses known to affect humans to date. Four cause the common cold, while the other two were the outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS) in 2002, and Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012. The new coronavirus is often referred to as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. It appears to be less deadly than the two previous respiratory syndrome coronaviruses, but more transmissible.
Symptoms of COVID-19 Include:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms range from being unnoticeable to mild for most people. In more severe (and rare) cases the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death. The severe cases are generally experienced by elderly people and/or people with already compromised immune systems.
If you develop symptoms and have been close to an affected area or person with COVID-19, then you should seek medical advice.
Who is Affected?
Novel coronavirus is new to humans, and so nobody has an immunity to it. While everyone can be affected, it appears that the elderly are at the highest risk of developing severe complications, as well as those who have preexisting health conditions such as diabetes.
Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at an increased risk, as well as close contacts of people with COVID-19, and people present in places where ongoing community transmission is occurring.
What is the Mortality Rate?
The current mortality (death) rate is around 1% according to most official sources. The World Health Organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated the mortality rate is 3.4%. For comparison, the seasonal flu is about 0.1%.
With that said, the 3.4% figure was calculated by dividing the deaths by the confirmed cases. Many medical officials believe that this mortality percentage is significantly lower in reality. The reason it is likely much lower is because there are many more cases that haven’t been confirmed because many individuals don’t show any noticeable symptoms. Once more accurate data is gathered and we are using more realistic denominators, then it is speculated that very likely the mortality rate will be comparable to the seasonal flu. For now only time will tell.
How Many People Are Infected?
Worldwide there were 458,927 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 20,807 total deaths and 113,687 cases totally recovered on March 25, 2020, 12:55pm PST time according to a live map and data presentation created by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The data used for this map has been sourced from the WHO, CDC, ECDC, NHC, and DXY, and local media reports. This map includes live updates of reported cases, deaths, recoveries, and other relevant data points.
When Was Coronavirus First Reported?
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab.
COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China on December 31st, 2019.
Reports claim that the virus started in a wet food market and was transferred from bats to humans. Genetic testing has confirmed that the virus is 96% genetically identical to another bat coronavirus (2). Studies also show that pangolins may be the intermediate host between bats and humans (3).
Is the Media Overhyping Everything?
Yes and no.
Of course, with any event in the world, many media institutions thrive off creating negative anxiety-inducing news for the general population, as this generally equates to more views and clicks.
If you hear claims that the virus affects Asian people more than white people, or that it’s a man-made virus created for biological warfare, then please ignore these claims. Focus your attention on the information being presented by official organizations in your country that are directed by medical professionals.
This virus is definitely not something to ignore, but it also isn’t a reason to panic. Excessive panic does no good. Focus on taking the right precautions and continue living your life as usual. Basically, be diligent but don’t live in fear.
What Precautions Should You Take?
Listen to your mom (or dad)! They likely taught you these common sense hygienic practices since you were a child.
You likely don’t need to go to this extreme, but definitely be diligent with your hygiene
There are several precautions you can take to minimize the chances of catching coronavirus and spreading it to other people.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (sing the alphabet) with warm water and soap several times a day and especially during workouts, after returning home from work or school, and before eating.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth before washing your hands.
- When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and throw the tissue away (if you don’t have a tissue handy then cough or sneeze in your arm in front of your elbow)
- If you want you can ‘elbow bump’ people instead of shaking hands.
- Avoiding densely packed social gatherings (i.e concerts, clubs) if you are visiting or living in a high-risk region.
Wearing a mask is a subject of controversy.
Wearing a mask, especially the cheaper ones that still allow air to flow through the sides of the mask aren’t necessarily going to protect you from this virus. Some studies also show that masks may even increase your risks as you end up adjusting and touching your face more often.
That said, many medical authorities suggest a mask may actually prevent you from touching your face, which can help decrease the likelihood that you catch the virus by touching your nose and mouth. If you’re in a highly affected area — currently Iran, Italy, South Korea, and China — and you’re in an epicenter, yes, wearing a mask may be a good idea. If the virus hasn’t spread to your location in large numbers, then practicing the aforementioned hygiene practices should be sufficient.
Self-quarantine and isolation have been recommended by health organizations for those who have tested positive for coronavirus.
Practicing good hygiene is important not just for yourself, but also to prevent the spread of coronavirus to people at a high risk of experiencing complications.
Are There Natural Ways to Combat Coronavirus?
Humans have no natural immunity to this specific coronavirus as it is the first time it has been transferred from animals to humans.
Therefore, the best thing one can do besides taking the appropriate hygiene measures is to live a healthy lifestyle and to strengthen immunity.
Regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet (especially foods that contain immune boosting vitamin c and zinc), drinking purified water, reducing stress, and getting restful sleep are all factors that contribute to a naturally healthy and strong immune system.
One supplement that needs more research is humic acid. Studies have shown that humic acids are effective in vitro (cell studies) against multiple viruses including influenza, HSV, HIV, herpes, among others (4, 5, 6).
Humic acid is thought to bind to a virus by ‘hydrogen bonding.’ Research appears to show that humic acid binds more strongly to viruses than human cells. A virus multiplies by injecting its RNA and DNA (genomic material) into a host’s cell. Humic acid may help prevent the proliferation of a virus because viruses have a higher affinity to bind to humic acid which neutralizes the virus, preventing it from reproducing.
To simplify, humic acids have been demonstrated in vitro to reduce the “stickiness” of viruses to host cells, while simultaneously being a strong “magnet” to viruses. In the lab this has shown to not only cause the virus to have difficulty adhering to the host cell, but also be drawn toward humic acids instead of host cells.
A 2012 interview with Richard J Laub, MS, PhD, CChem, FRSC, a chemist with nearly 150 peer-reviewed published research papers, explains these findings. He has spent about 20 years of his life dedicated to sourcing, analyzing, studying, extracting and purifying humic acid and studying its potential as a broad-spectrum antiviral agent*.
IMPORTANT: Are humic acids going to protect you from novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
We simply do not have the answer to that question yet. More research is certainly needed, but preliminary findings look interesting. We will wait to see what further research indicates before drawing any conclusions.
Naturally formed humic and fulvic acids have been scientifically demonstrated to provide a myriad of other health benefits starting by improving your gut health where 80% of your immune system is located.
Clearly optimizing your immune system at this time is helpful and it should generally be a focus of your ongoing healthcare program.
Is There a Vaccine and Cure for Coronavirus?
There is currently no cure and vaccine for this specific novel coronavirus.
Scientists have started the lengthy process of developing a vaccine. First animal trials must be conducted before human trials. This entire process can up to 18 months according to several conservative estimates. It is not likely that a vaccine will be developed by the end of 2020.
There was no vaccine ever created for SARS, the coronavirus that spread in 2002, although this virus seemed to naturally decrease its spread during the spring as temperatures increased. This is somewhat common for certain viruses and it is possible, although not guaranteed, that warmer weather may decrease the spread of COVID-19.
The Bottom Line
While the world remains on high alert, and coronavirus is not something to ignore, there is a lot of unnecessary anxiety and worry being spread due to false information.
Even with somewhat “reliable” information, the news and media might not be helping either as it is the top news cycle everywhere. They are likely trying to help, but the outcome could be the exact opposite by fueling fears with an already anxious public.
The bottom line is that the majority of healthy people are going to be fine. Certain at-risk populations, namely those over 75, and those with pre-exisiting health conditions such as auto-immune disorders, diabetes and cancer, are at a greater risk of severe complications.
It’s important to not downplay the risks, but at the same time, wide-spread panic does no good. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to simply take care of your own health, practice good hygiene, and help ease the worry of people that are anxious by directing them to official statements from local government medical authorities.
Disclaimer: These statements are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and have not verified by Health Canada. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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F. J. Lu, S. N. Tseng, et al. In Vitro Anti-Influenza Virus Activity of
Synthetic Humate Analogues Derived from Protocatechuic Acid. Arch.
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for Virology Branch of the Antiviral Research and Antimicrobial
Chemistry Program (Dr. Christopher Tseng, Program Officer), Division of
Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) Screening and Testing
Program for Antiviral, Immunomodulatory, Antitumor and/or Drug Delivery
Activities, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID), under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health (NIH,
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