COVID-19

A “Corona type virus” is now alleged to have caused a bit of a pandemic with a respiratory/pneumonia type of illness that seems to be extraordinarily infectious and can have very morbid consequences in a vulnerable population.  The latter appears to be older individuals or those people who have other medical problems that make them immunologically fragile.  There is no shortage of exploding scientific discussions about what this all “appears to be”. The Lancet (British) and the New England Journal of Medicine (American) represent officialdom in terms of what this is all about.  I must say that the rhetoric in these 2 highly respected journals is subdued compared with what we are hearing from the mainstream media news desks. There are several sides to the story. 

First, taken at face value, this is a very contagious viral illness that seems to demanda great deal of respect. All of the advice being rendered by public health agencies, federal and state governments, etc., seems generally sound in terms of precautions, avoidance, barriers, sanitization, etc. It’s hard to argue with all of that at least at this stage until more is known about the science of it all.  However, the major identification of individuals who are actually sick with or carrying this apparent agent is dependent on so-called “testing kits” that are in very short supply. So much so that this is become a talking point politically with plenty of blame being thrown around as to why people can’t get tested or even obtain testing kits. But a closer look at what these testing kits represent – PCR or polymerase chain reaction detection of RNA – belies the fact that it is actually detecting a virus at all. In fact, no one has really provided any electron microscopic images of the virus whether it be from sputum, tissue samples, or autopsies outside of the case published in the NEJM. No one has actually SEEN or CULTURED a virus here in almost all the cases.  And, there is precious little distinction between this and other well-known coronaviruses from routine epidemiologic facts compiled annually. There is just a lot of speculation especially when compared with all of the governmental certainty. Again, not to be dismissive here, but the usual scientific scrutiny seems to be on holiday while major events, sports championships, crowds of over 250 people in some places, and tens of thousands of small businesses have simply been canceled or are prohibited from being engaged. Although it is probably community-minded if not medically high-minded to go along with much of this, the public should demand a little bit more proof here.

Secondly, after the somewhat paternalistic instructions are passed down from academia to the patient public, one is left only with how to quarantine oneself and keep one’s hands clean. No one is talking about very effective methods for minimizing morbidity by using tools that can be purchased in a health food store, making some dietary changes, and in some cases applying some esoteric but existing modalities that will stimulate immune function. I have yet to hear a single “expert” talk about the potential value of vitamin D, vitamin C, selenium nutrition, vitamin A, or any number of other dietary tools that can most definitely minimize virulence. This is particularly important if one catches certain viruses such as influenza, the common cold, or the Coxsackie virus that can infect your heart and result in the need for a transplant. One recent expert who was interviewed by a popular pundit went on and on about what we needed to do for the public health as regards COVID-19, and a few minutes later effectively said that chronic Lyme disease “doesn’t really exist”. There is a bit of irony here, and perhaps this gentleman has not been keeping up in certain areas.

Finally, whether this is a weaponized agent or some zoonosis that jumped species in a Chinese “wet market” or possibly simply another new ordinary virus in the corona category, it is most interesting how we impose strict scientific principles to the case of a mother claiming vaccine injury to her now brain injured toddler while forgetting those same principles in gathering and interpreting statistics about this virus.  And yet here, we have a report of 3 patients with a severe respiratory illness and some type of viral particle that is identified as a corona type of virus consistent with a similar virus found in bats and distinct from the SARS and MERS coronaviruses… and we have it all figured out.  Without trying to make microbiologists of everyone, suffice it to say that this is very early in the game and that tremendous assumptions have been made about this agent affecting people all over the world.  The slightly arbitrary PCR testing kit for COVID 19 (that is in short supply and which does not culture or actually see the virus) is the major “proof” that this is all being caused by a single viral agent. Perhaps it is. But right now, scientific it is not. And if it is considered scientific, then all those people who suffer chronic illness with symptoms strongly suggestive of some type of infection related to the agents of Lyme disease after receiving “standard courses of antibiotics thought to be more than adequate” have been done a terrible disservice.  One can’t have it both ways.  We are either going to follow Koch’s postulates or we are not.  Add to that the fact that morbidity and mortality statistics are likely grossly overestimated due to the underreporting of people who are asymptomatic carriers or who simply have mild illness and never enter the healthcare system.  The real mortality likely far less than 1%, although unfortunately that doesn’t make for very good television and we might not know that four months down the road. It doesn’t amount to a “hoax”, but the drama is most definitely overdone in my opinion.  Smart people across the Atlantic seem to agree:

For those remaining few (probably many of whom work for your local HMO) who are unaware of the potential benefits of high-dose vitamin C, pulses of high-dose vitamin D and A, the importance of basic selenium and zinc nutrition for the immune system, and the value of a host of botanical extracts, I strongly suggest that you visit your nearest naturopathic or integrative physician.  These people are well trained and knowledgeable in such things. They are much more likely to keep you out of trouble than physicians who have not had this type of education. Drugs such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – common antimalarials – are also showing benefits in shortening the course of the illness and reducing its morbidity. All of these things can be helpful. If one gets the illness and minimizes morbidity or severity, then the average person emerges with not just antibody related immunity but rather cellular immunity which no vaccine can confer. Let nature teach one’s immune system, if unfortunate enough to get the illness, how to deal with it and give it a chance with these other tools. It would be nice if some of our public health agencies would add these critical pieces of advice to the suggestion that we simply “stay home”.  Of course, none of that may be necessary if it turns out that the viral agent is not nearly as dangerous as has been reported.