CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND YOUR HEALTH
EXPERT SPEAKER CALL, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- Dr. Robert Darling, Chief Medical Officer of Patronus Medical and Former White House Physician
- Dr. Jerry L. Mothershead, Retired Emergency Medicine Physician, Flight Surgeon, and Naval Flight Officer now Focused on Public Health and Medical Defense Against Pandemics
When we spoke last on March 3, there were 122 cases in the US and today there are over 350,000 US cases. We have seen a dramatic change over the last 30+ days:
- There have been 17,600 recovered patients and over 9,000 deaths.
- The next one to two weeks will be extremely tough, but we are going to get through this. We live in an amazing time in history.
- There are hundreds of thousands of scientists and doctors working to find a solution – a collaborative effort like the world has never seen. They are working to complete thousands of Manhattan projects in just days or weeks.
- Online repositories make information available ahead of journals, and more than 200 clinical trials have launched.
What should we know about COVID-19 that we don’t know?
We are rolling out the diagnostics as fast as we can. Abbott Lab was the first to roll-out the antibody test. If you want to swim with the sharks you have to have antibodies. Also, convalescent sera from patients who have recovered from the disease has shown
Additionally, cellular phone technology such as in South Korea and Taiwan is being used to track the movements of citizens. This can help identify individuals you have been in contact with in the last two or three days. With this technology, it is possible to identify who patients were exposed to and alert those individuals to go into quarantine. Those tools will be a game
changer in flattening the curve globally.
What is the current thinking on immunity if you have already contracted COVID-19?
If you get this disease and recover we are pretty certain you have some degree of immunity. Unfortunately, we don’t know if the immunity will last your lifetime. We used to think small pox vaccine was a lifetime vaccine, but it did decline 1% or 2% a year. There is a possibility that this immunity can be beneficial. If the virus continues to be present then we will need to get periodic vaccinations, just like we do against influenza.
What will it take for communities to relax its social distancing practices?
- New cases declining over time
- Adequate testing ability
- Availability of protective garments
- Preparedness of hospitals
- Public health departments having instituted enhanced surveillance for contact tracing
How exactly do people contract COVID-19?
- Droplets from coughing or sneezing
- Touching an infected surface and then touching the nose, ears, or eyes
- A rarer way is through inhalation of a droplet nuclei, also known as naked viruses. As you get further away from the source, the amount of these droplets goes way down.
Why, how, and when should people wear masks?
The primary purpose of the mask is not to protect you from someone else, but to protect others from you if you are carrying the virus. People often have COVID-19, but do not know it as they exhibit no symptoms. You need to be fastidious when using a mask. Wash hands before using a mask with soap and water. If using a paper mask, throw it away after use. You also need to wash your hands and face when you take off the mask.
There is no need to wear a mask when walking your dog away from others, but if you go into the bank or local grocery store then you should put it on before you go in. You can learn how to make a surgical mask on the CDC website and can put a coffee filter inside it for extra protection.
Can therapeutic antibodies keep people protected?
It is hard to determine how effective the antibodies are. If you wait until someone is on death’s door then you may not be able to reverse the disease process. Do you need to give the antibodies when the patient first has symptoms? Questions like this are still unanswered. A few labs are trying to create monoclonal antibodies. They can engineer only the antibodies against this virus. This could potentially change the way we think about the virus. You don’t develop immunity, but if you get sick enough you are going to be making them anyway.
Do you think COVID-19 virus will return in the fall and become more virulent?
We don’t know. The worst case is it doesn’t go away at all. We are watching Africa to see what happens there. We hope it goes away like SARS and MERS. They were bad, but both went away. SARS went away and didn’t come back at all. MERS went away and after that there were only 15 cases/year. COVID-19 will likely come back next year, but hopefully vaccines will be available when it comes back. Going forward, we may have cold, flu and coronavirus season.
We will get through this and are positive about the worldwide effort to figure it out. We worry far more about the damage to our economy. We will have drugs and a vaccine. As Trump said, “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” Biggest anxiety is the 401K coming back up along with the economy, but we can’t jump the gun without the proper safeguards in place. A historical example is the Spanish flu. Philadelphia waited two weeks before doing anything, and they were decimated. St. Louis had no mass gatherings in 1918, which flattened the curve. Denver acted almost as fast as St. Louis, but when the curve started coming back down, they dropped social distancing and it came back with a vengeance. When getting back in the water we need to go ankle deep first before diving in.
*These statements are provided by Dr. Darling and Dr. Mothershead rather than TIGER 21.