Influenza and CoronaVirus: A Thoughtful Response
How should you respond to the spread of the Coronavirus? Renamed COVID-19. What is the most rational and sane response? Should we close off all the borders? Should we cancel all conferences and outdoor events? Should we cancel the Olympics? What is the real prevalence and mortality rate? The answer: this is a time for vigilance, preparation, with calmness.
This is your grand sweep of time overview. This series will be updated as this is a fast moving story.
CoronaVirus Requires Organized Incident Command
Great leaders exhibit calmness and reassurance while at the same time exhibiting the qualities of a effective incident commander. That is how massive wild land fires are fought. An incident commander is identified and the command structure is assembled. Plans are coordinated and executed purposefully with determination.
So the problem with the Coronavirus is the fear of the unknown. In the end this will portend far greater economic, commercial and societal consequences than epidemiologic or medical outcomes. We have already seen a precipitous fall in the stock market, amounting to $5 trillion ($5,000,000,000,000) in paper losses. It will rebound, but will fall again.
We should heed the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. You will not die. You simply need to take modest precautions.
Disease Outbreaks — Four Horseman of the Apocalypse
We are always faced with the Malthusian Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War, famine, pestilence and disease. They will never fully disappear.
Throughout all of human history we have witnessed great epidemiologic challenges and disasters. Leprosy, tuberculosis, the plague (the Black Death), smallpox, the pandemic flu of 1918, AIDS, SARS, swine flu, MERS, Ebola virus and now Coronavirus. It will never end.
There were numerous recurrences of the plague through out the middle ages. The worst in 1348 where an estimated 40% of population throughout Europe succumbed. That must have seemed like the end of the world. It was centuries before the germ theory of contagious disease. No one knew the source. So there were religious incantations. There were whole groups who were shunned or dispossessed. And then it stopped.
Half of Paris’s population of 100,000 people died. In Italy, the population of Florence was reduced from 110,000–120,000 inhabitants in 1338 down to 50,000 in 1351. At least 60% of the population of Hamburg and Bremen perished, and a similar percentage of Londoners may have died from the disease as well. In London approximately 62,000 people died between 1346 and 1353. — Wikipedia
During the Spanish flu Pandemic of 1918, it is estimated that nearly 1/3 of the world’s population contracted the flu. More than 500,000,000 people. It followed the end of WWI, with mass troop movements. With massive shifts in human populations. The flu actually lasted 2 years. There was a ping-pong effect between America and Europe. The stories are legion of physicians working around the clock, tending to patients without antibiotics or antivirals as we have today. That also was a draconian period of time.
But we survived.
Annual Influenza Review
Each year I compose a blog detailing the ineffectiveness of the influenza vaccine, because the flu mutates each year. The vaccine is always based on last year’s virus. It is always a guess. Effectiveness varies between 10-60%. But a more detailed look at vaccine effectiveness shows a distinct stratification according to age. Where the effectiveness of the vaccine is even dramatically less in older and frail individuals. That is why we are now giving triple or quadruple strength vaccines to older individuals.
And currently the number of fatalities from the flu, even this year, far exceeds the Coronavirus. But the flu has become displaced as the topic du jour.
CoronaVirus in Perspective
Even last week a more detailed look at the viral spread in China is quite revealing. At least 80% of all cases originated in one province. From Wuhan. Virtually no fatal cases in Shanghai or Beijing. High density populations where you expect higher incident and mortality rates. You never hear about this. And with draconian infection control the rate of spread is beginning to diminish.It’s interesting a whistleblowers complaint about known Coronavirus patients disembarking from a ship in Vallejo may have been the source of the recent death. But what about all of the unprotected team members who were sent home? As far as we know none of these have succumbed.
In the end all viral and bacterial infections are a host response. If you are healthy and vigorous, your chances of contracting any illness are diminished. Those that are older and frail are more subject to pneumonia and perishing.
I am not reassured by the current administration’s haphazard and amateurish approach. This appears to be a Keystone Cops approach. There are some stars. Dr. Anthony Fauci is highly respected at the CDC.
So here are my annual recommendations.
These were formulated for the flu but may pertain to the Coronavirus. Influenza vaccines are ineffective. Anti-virals such as Tamiflu and Relenza have immediate value if taken within the first 48 hours.
My recommendations each year are effective. [Although the usual FDA disclaimers for advocating treatment therapies are acknowledged.]
At the first sign of the flu or any viral syndrome:
- 50,000 units of vitamin D daily for 5 days.
- Astragalus 1000 mg daily for 5 days.
- Thymic protein A (ProBoost) 1-2 packets 3 times daily for 5 days.
The effectiveness of vitamin D against viral syndromes is well demonstrated. Similarly should there be any doubt of high dose vitamin effectiveness, the only known cure for severe life-threatening measles is – vitamin A.
Wash your hands. As Ignaz Semmelweis demonstrated in the mid 19th century, washing the hands prevents dissemination of disease. He was able to decrease the rate of postpartum death (Puerperal Sepsis) from 40% to 1% simply by washing hands (in carbolic acid).
Stay calm. Get plenty of rest and sleep. Don’t panic.
Let me know your own observations.
Philip Lee Miller, MD
March 3, 2020