The Corona virus is actually a pretty common virus. The issue is why is this strain of Corona COVID-19 (previously called 2019-nCoV) possibly more deadly? Actually, we still don’t know whether it is deadly. Yes, there have been many deaths and spread of the virus has been rapid. But the death rate if the figures are to be believed is in the order of 3%. A bit more than the seasonal flu but unusually high.
How fast Corona spreads
How fast a disease spreads between one host to another is calculated by the R0 (pronounced R-nought). The WHO calculated the RO for the Corona virus at 1.4-2.5. Compare that to a RO of 5-7 for polio, smallpox and rubella, 12-18 for measles and 1.28 for seasonal flu. When a disease has a value of less than 1 it will die out at faster rate than it can propagate. However, these numbers and mathematical models and may not represent actual scenarios which can vary depending on environmental standards like basic hygiene, pollution, weather, ventilation, proximity and other factors. In fact some data suggests the RO value for Corona COVID-19 can reach as high as 6.6.
|Airborne, direct contact,
|Airborne droplet, physical contact
Origins & Causes
The Corona Virus originated in Wuhan China. Allegedly at wet markets where many different animals, especially wild animals are kept in close proximity to each other.
China seem to propagate more of these outbreaks than other countries. They have given us SARS, Bird flu and now the Corona virus. The answer may lie in the Chinese penchant for fresh meat and their addiction to all kinds of exotic and wild animals. Chinese prefer to get their meat fresh. which often means going to a live animal market and butchering the animals then and there. The problem is, with so many live animals enclosed in one place, there a very high chance of spreading disease. This is compounded when wild animals are mixed with commercially farmed animals who have been carefully nurtured to be healthy often with ant-biotics and vaccines. Many wild animals have dangerous diseases which can jump into other animals and then to humans with direct contact in the live animal markets.
In the Western world by comparison most food is sold in hygienic supermarkets which have to follow strict public health standards. China by and large still does not have such high standards for the vast majority people. Perhaps it is also time for China to stop these inhumane practices. For years the Chinese have been slaughtering exotic species like Shark and many exotic African animals to harness their alleged health properties. Maybe it is natures way of punishing them? The Chinese government has tried to stop this practice without much success. Apparently, it would create too much of a political push back from the masses. Perhaps this outbreak would be great opportunity to stop live animal markets for good.
Size, shape and properties of the Corona Virus
2019-nCoV is actually a large virus at 125 nanometers. Most virus are between 20 to 400 nanometers in diameter (1 nanometer = 10 meters) while the smallest bacteria are about 400 nanometers in size. That means the Corona virus is too big to survive on any surface for too long (10-14 hours).
It spreads through both direct and indirect contact. Direct contact means physically touching someone who has the virus, like kissing, sexual intercourse and shaking hands. Indirect contact means somebody coughing and sneezing and spreading the droplets on nearby surfaces like door knobs, toilet seats, computer keyboards, airline seats which you might touch in turn.
It is also possible that the Corona virus could spread through the air, the so-called aerosolized effect. If you are travelling in an air craft or work in office with central air conditioning or heating it is possible you could get infected. This may be the reason why the spread of the Corona virus on the cruise ship moored off Japan has been so high. People are not allowed to leave their cabins but the central air system is probably recirculating the virus through the whole ship.
According to this article on science daily in cold temperatures, a virus’s outer covering hardens to a rubbery gel that could shield the virus as it passes from person to person. At warmer temperatures, however, the protective gel melts to a liquid phase which isn’t tough enough to protect the virus against the elements, and so the virus loses its ability to spread from person to person and gets destroyed. Perhaps take a flight to a warm hot climate and wait it out? Is that why we are not seeing an outbreak of Corona in hot dry countries?
The more common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold, runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, a general feeling of being unwell. But it only lasts for a short time.
Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms. MERS symptoms usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.
The COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) is an entirely different strain. Symptoms usually start with an itchy throat. Then virus goes down the trachea into your lungs causing breathing difficulties, chest congestion and tightening of the chest and eventually pneumonia.
Symptoms include fever, dry cough, myalgia (muscle pain), headache, hemoptysis and diarrhea. It causes hypoxemia which means it causes difficulty in breathing which often requires oxygen therapy.
229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1
|Mild cold, runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, a general feeling of being unwell
|Fever, dry cough, myalgia (muscle pain), headache, fatigue,
hemoptysis (coughing up of blood), diarrhea and hypoxemia (low level of oxygen in the blood)
|Fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia.
One of the problems of the Coronavirus has been the ability to properly test and detect of the virus. China has been very close guarded in supplying a DNA for testing. According to this article Australians were the first to get a sample and recreate the new coronavirus outside of China. Even then there is not enough test kits both in China and other countries to quickly and efficiently detest the virus. According to this article the tests they only work when somebody has an active infection.
This NYTimes article seems to indicate children do not seem to be affected by the Coronavirus while those older than 50 had a 65% risk of dying. It is possible that children are carriers but do not show the symptoms. More men seem to affected by the coronavirus than women. The suggestion is that women are given a rubella vaccine booster in the teens to guard against the danger while pregnant, while men do not.
How to protect yourself from Corona
- Wash hands frequently – Thoroughly with soap at least 60% alcohol solution. One of the most effective ways to stop the disease. Perhaps wear gloves and avoid touching the face or shaking hands with others.
- Buy a face shield. Medical grade face shields are expensive but a cheap welders masks for about $13 could be the way to go. A bit drastic but what else to do, especially if you cannot find any masks.
- Limit public places – Avoid restaurants, public events, movie theatres. At the risk of being racist avoid people who have visited China, Chinese restaurants and friends. There is higher chance they have friends and family who have visited China.
- High heat Crank up your heating system and wait for summer. Viruses become inactive at between a 60 °C and 65 ° but more slowly than bacteria according to this document from the WHO. It is though the body gets fever to kill of bacteria and viruses.
- Natural alternatives – Some foods have natural anti-viral properties. Like Ceylon Cinnamon Bark Oil, Oregano oil, Sage, Basil, Garlic, Fennel, Elderberry, Rosemary, Ginseng, Echinacea, Ginger and Licorice root. You may also want to take a look at powerful essential oils which have powerful anti-viral properties. It may or may not be effective against the Corona virus but worth a try.
- Surgical masks – Level 1 and above masks have a filtration size of 100 nanometer (0.1 microns) while the Corona virus is 150 Nanometers. In theory it should be effective but efficiency is at 98% so there is a 2% chance of infection. The N95 filter has 99.9% efficiency but the problem is can anyone wear something like this for hours on end? Still better than nothing but comes at a huge cost and inconvenience.
- Clean your house, car and clothes – Try to wipe down every possible surface of your house from door knobs, light switches, toilets, counter tops with a powerful anti-bacterial. Maybe use a steam cleaner. Wash clothes and bed linen in hot water. High heat kills a virus. Crank up your heater and keep the house warm. Drink plenty of hot teas and hot foods. You can may also be breeding ground for virus. Wipe down every surface and steam clean the carpets with high heat.
|Breathability – Delta P
|PFE = 99.9% @ 0.1 micron
|> 5.0 mm H2O/cm2
|Indicated for use when treating patients with airborne diseases such as TB or influenza.
|BFE ≥ 98% PFE ≥ 98% @ 0.1 micron
|< 5.0 mm H2O/cm2
|Ideal for procedures where heavy to moderate amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced.
|BFE ≥ 98% PFE ≥ 98% @ 0.1 micron
|< 5.0 mm H2O/cm2
|Ideal for procedures where moderate to light amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced.
|BFE ≥ 98% PFE ≥ 98% @ 0.1 micron
|< 4.0 mm H2O/cm2
|Ideal for procedures where low amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced.
|Molded utility mask
|Physical Barrier only
|Ideal as a comfortable substitute for earl loop face masks, this mask is a simple physical barrier ideal for exams and visitations or for dry, short procedures that do not produce fluid, spray or aerosols
|Tissue utility mask
|Physical Barrier only
|Ideal as a simple physical barrier for exams and visitations or for dry, short procedures that do not produce fluid, spray or aerosols
|Protects mask and face from direct splatter; may prolong mask life. • Sonically welded elastic headband for added strength.
|Mask resistance to penetration by synthetic blood under pressure (mmHg). Higher resistance = higher protection.
|BFE – Bacterial Filtration Efficiency
|Percentage of particles filtered out at a pore size of 1.0 – 5.0 microns (µ).
|PFE – Submicron Particle Filtration Efficiency
|Percentage of particles filtered out at a pore size of 0.1 – 1.0 microns (µ).
|Delta P – Differential Pressure
|Pressure drop across mask, or resistance to air flow in mmH2O/cm2 . Greater resistance = better protection but less breathability
|Measures the flame spread of the mask material.
What medications are available?
Currently there is no certified medication. According to this South China Morning Post Article China has filed for a patent for the use of remdesivir – an experimental drug developed by US-based Gilead Sciences. Others have been using a cocktail treatment of antiviral drugs known as Kaletra, ribavirin and inhalable interferon.
What does the future hold?
As of now over 1600 deaths (Feb 16.2020) have been reported in China. You can take a look at this real time map of the Corona virus which is very interesting. This could just be the beginning of an epidemic or it could just as easily die off as the weather improves and an affordable vaccine is developed.
Given the level of international travel the virus should have spread much more than the current data indicated.Travel from China to other countries has been severely restricted. Perhaps that has averted a disaster. Maybe the weather conditions and pollution in China is making things much worse? Winter in China, let alone summer is pretty miserable with misty cloud like conditions, most likely caused by pollution.
All we can do is be vigilant. If you have an elderly parent take extra precautions and take steps to boost their immune system. Eat foods like as shown in the article. Get a bottle of high-quality Ceylon Cinnamon Bark Oil and Oregano Oil. It may not stop the virus but could increase your chance of survival. Exercise. Take precautions of what type of food you are eating especially meat. And wash all clothing and by all means wear masks and eye and ear coverings.
But one this is certain. The virus is here to stay as it has mutated and jumped into humans. We may be able to control it to some extent, but there may remain carriers who show no symptoms, only to pass it on to new hosts when the weather gets cold.