Many of the victims of COVID-19 who have recovered from their illnesses report lingering, ongoing health-related consequences from the experience. Chris Cuomo, news analyst for CNN, reported that he has experienced brain fog, depression, and scarred lungs since his recovery. Medical professionals have concurred that they too are hearing of these same ‘after-effects’.
The after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic/lockdown/distancing phenomena are also going to have a lasting effect on how societies function, going forward. Buried within our psyches will be the indelible realization that the people out there in the world who we want to love and connect with, socialize with, do business with; could also make us sick…potentially gravely sick. Even after we have developed vaccines and treatment regimens for this virus, people will be subconsciously uneasy about the next one.
These concerns are well-founded. The 1918 flu pandemic, before it had exhausted its three-year run, had claimed the lives of roughly 2.5% of all of the people on earth at that time. They had no medicine to fight it and no understanding of how to prevent its spread through distancing and contact tracing. The drastic measures which are being taken now to quell the spread of COVID-19 are well-founded and necessary.
Making The Most Out Of This Quarantine
But to what degree will COVID-19 change us as individuals? Hopefully, if it does change us at all, it will change us for the better. How can we make the most out of this quarantine? Here are some thoughts:
- Change as little as possible regarding your daily routine
- Get up at the same time you normally would
- Plan out each day like you would any other day
- Adapt your morning routine and your evening routine to your environment and circumstances
- Keep in contact with friends and family members with texts, calls, and facetime calls
- Exercise – adapt your routine to your situation but continue your exercise program
- Meditate and reflect on the unity that everyone in the world is experiencing through this common experience
- Embrace the uncertainties we all face and find joy in change
- Maintain all your good habits and think about how to cultivate new ones
- Guard against succumbing to bad habits, such as excessive eating and drinking
- Try to limit smoking anything right now – protect your lungs
- Keep yourself busy with productive pursuits
Supplements & Dietary Recommendations
While we wait for the medical establishment to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment protocols, we should prepare for this potential fight by strengthening our body’s immune response capability. Along with healthy dietary choices, exercise, meditation, and other well-being measures, we can supplement our diets with immune-boosting substances, including:
- Liposomal Glutathione is a natural substance contained in all human cells that defends against free radicals and supports a healthy immune system 
- Quercetin is a flavonoid that supports immune function and inflammatory response 
- EGCG, or Green Tea extract, is a potent anti-oxidant, shown to stimulate immune response 
- Cistanche provides immune support by stimulating the development of naïve T cells and natural killer (NK) cell activity 
- Vitamin D is an important immune support vitamin, and most people in the U.S. are Vitamin D deficient, especially in this period of ‘stay-at-home’ 
- Vitamin B6 is useful in supporting some immune system biochemical reactions
- Vitamin C deficiency has been linked to impaired immunity, and supplementation with high doses of Vitamin C has been shown to enhance the proliferation of B and T cells and helps prevent and treat respiratory infections 
- Zinc has been shown to be essential to immune system function 
- A 2003 published research study  suggests that echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus may all have immune-boosting abilities
How Did We Get Here and What Have We Learned?
On December 31, 2019, the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China reported to the World Health organization that they had a mysterious cluster of forty-one cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in Wuhan. They also reported that there appeared to be a relationship between the cases and the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was closed down the following day.
A week later, on January 7, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Health reported that they had identified a new, or novel coronavirus. Four days later, on January 11, China reported its first death from the COVID-19 virus.
But where did this novel coronavirus actually originate from and how did it begin to spread within the human population? Through genetic sequencing, scientists have now identified the virus as originating from bats. But the live animal market in Wuhan was basically a combination open-air butcher shop and seafood market. They did not trade in bats.
Zoonotic Infections – From Bats to Humans
COVID-19 is a ‘zoonotic’ disease, meaning that it is a virus or pathogenic organism that jumps from a lower species of life to humans. COVID-19 did jump from animals to humans, but probably not directly. Zoonotic viruses can jump first to an intermediary animal, like a bird or mammal, and then once mingled with that animal’s DNA, it can effectively jump to, and infect humans. In the case of the SARS outbreak in 2003, scientists believe that the original virus jumped from bats to civet cats to humans.
Zoonotic viruses have been researched by disease specialists for decades. The Coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS, and the H1N1 flu were all zoonotic viruses. Researchers have also traced the origin of the HIV virus to animals. The eating of monkey meat in Western Africa has traditionally been considered a delicacy by certain cultures. Researchers now know that the HIV virus jumped to humans from monkeys, most likely when a butcher cut his own hand with his knife and comingled his blood with the monkey’s contaminated blood.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House spokesperson on infectious diseases, believes that the Huanan Seafood Market was the source of the original infection and that all similar markets in China and elsewhere should be shuttered. He stated, “It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we just don’t shut it down.” The Chinese government announced on February 25th that they had banned the trade and consumption of wild animals.
But was the Huanan Market really the source of the virus contamination? Some journalists and research experts aren’t so sure. They believe that the connection to the market had to do more with the crowded, close-quarters that shoppers experience there, with people pushed up against each other, waiting for a merchant to complete their orders. Based on what we now know about Corvid-19 and social distancing, the Huanan market provided the ideal environment for the virus to spread from human to human.
Human Error – Another Possible Source?
So, if it didn’t originate in the market, where did it originate? The medical journal, ‘The Lancet’, reported in January that the original human infection of COVID-19 had nothing to do with the Huanan market. As it so happens, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a local Wuhan facility situated about one and a half blocks from the market. This facility, in conjunction with the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology, has been conducting tests and publishing papers on their work with coronaviruses. They have reported on their efforts going around China, collecting coronaviruses for research, in the hopes of preventing future illnesses. Did one of their samples leak, or was there some kind of accident in the handling of the virus samples?
Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist, and biosafety expert told the Washington Post that the first human infection could have occurred as a natural accident involving a laboratory worker. The virus could have passed directly to a human in the lab, or potentially through another animal. He noted that the coronaviruses were studied in Wuhan at a biosafety level of two, which provides only minimal protection. Scientists and health care workers who handle coronavirus samples now in the U.S. work at a biosafety level of four, the highest. Dr. Ebright also reviewed some of the Wuhan research reports and stated that they included accounts of researchers in caves collecting samples without wearing proper safety gear. One account described a researcher being rained upon with bat urine.
In February 2020, ResearchGate published a short article written by Botao and Lei Xiao from Guangzhou’s South China University of Technology. Botao was quoted in the article saying, “In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in high-risk laboratories.” The article was mysteriously withdrawn shortly after publication.
Some journalists and politicos will use the question of corvid-19’s origins as an opportunity to play the blame game. However, tracing its origins from bat to human offers the U.S., China, and the rest of the world an opportunity to learn from this pandemic, and use that knowledge to prevent future pandemics.
Gauging the Risks
We’ve been down this road before with SARS and MERS. Each of these two previous coronaviruses ran their course with minimal human suffering and loss of life.
The SARS virus was particularly lethal, causing death in nearly fifteen percent of those who became infected. But the SARS virus was contained quickly. When someone got infected, symptoms were severe and they realized they were sick right away. Health officials isolated them and used contract tracing to identify people who had come into contact with infected persons and then tested them. Globally there were only 8000 cases with 774 deaths, none of which were in the U.S. By contrast, COVID-19 appears to cause death in about two percent (or more) of those infected. Another factor with SARS was that the virus itself was not robust enough to endure within the human population.
The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic eventually infected over 60 million people in the U.S., causing over 12,000 deaths, or .02% of those infected. COVID-19 is about one hundred times more deadly than H1N1, and is just as contagious, if not more so. It also thrives in humans. It is a hearty virus that can remain viable, out in the open, for days. It is for these reasons that Corvid-19 is so dangerous and so deadly.
We weren’t prepared, psychologically or logistically, for COVID-19. Many people who become infected with it have no symptoms and don’t even realize that they’re infected. It is easily passed onto other people in microscopic water droplets of saliva which emit from our mouths and noses when we breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze. Even the tiniest amount entering our bodies through our mouths, noses, or eyes can infect us. It can also be transmitted through sweat or any other body fluid. We can contrast that with the HIV virus, for example, which can only be transmitted from one person to another by way of internal bodily fluids; blood and/or reproductive fluids.
What Have We Learned?
Every day of this pandemic we learn something new. Some of what we learn are scientific, some are economic, and some is political. Socially, we’re also learning some things about ourselves and each other as we deal with the realities of distancing and isolation. Here are some of the things we’ve learned.
- No country on earth, with the possible exception of China and South Korea, was prepared for responding to this pandemic.
- Zoonotic viruses can be highly contagious, perhaps even more contagious than the seasonal flu.
- Zoonotic viruses can be highly robust, remaining viable on surfaces for many days.
- Zoonotic viruses can be extremely dangerous, killing as many as 2% or more of those infected.
- The only defense we have against COVID-19, and possible future pandemics for which we have no vaccine, is social distancing and a nearly total shut-down of social and economic activity.
- Global trade is a wonderful thing for countries and businesses, but it comes with risks. In the U.S., we are not able to ramp up production on certain vital pieces of medical equipment, like ventilators, because some of the key components in those machines are manufactured in foreign countries. Those foreign suppliers are now unable to supply these parts because of their own pandemic-related realities.
- Countries and free societies, like the U.S. and European nations, are more susceptible to pandemics because it is more difficult for their governments to dictate extreme health safety measures to their citizens.
- COVID-19 has no effect on some people it infects while killing others. We know that people with underlying chronic health conditions are more vulnerable. But why some apparently healthy individuals are more susceptible to the virus than others, is a medical mystery.
COVID-19 Social and Personal Costs
The economy is in a maelstrom. But in time, the economy will recover.
Our personal relationships have been impacted. In time, we’ll rekindle those connections.
While we balance on the blade’s edge of this pandemic, we need to continue to be true to ourselves and true to our personal and professional convictions. During this time of isolation, we must be careful not to allow frayed emotions to influence our diets and our wellness routine. Change as little as possible.
With technology being what it is, we can communicate with others easily and often. Reach out during this crisis to the people you care most about. We’re all experiencing this together and this period of time can actually be an opportunity for bonding and mending fences.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy
Between now and the time a vaccine is developed and ready for market, stay safe. Follow the experts’ advice. Keep your social distancing. Spend more time at home. Build up your immune response capability. Don’t let your well-being routine be impacted. Stay healthy, stay safe, and remain focused on the positives. If you don’t see them at first, look closer. Every crisis is an opportunity for learning and personal growth.