Mar. 2, 2020

Coronavirus Hysteria

Spring is the season of colds, flu and unstable temperatures with changeable weather. This year we’re dealing with corona virus scare. The number of infected people rises as well as the panic.

So how do we protect ourselves? First, we shouldn’t panic and stress about it too much, but look at the facts.

I have found a great article on Coronavirus by US pediatrician Elisa Song, MD and used some of its information.

 That’s what World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

… we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic

This is a time for facts, not fear.

This is a time for rationality, not rumours.[1]

 The group of coronaviruses can cause mild illness like the common cold, or more severe illness like we’ve seen with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and now COVID-19.

As of February 29, 2020, 75% of worldwide COVID-19 cases were still in China, with a reported 79,394 cases. There were 62 cases in the US (with 3 new cases reported that day). Total number of 6,009 cases outside of China (with 1,318 new cases that day). [2]

Transmission of COVID-19 is mainly through respiratory droplets and close contact – like influenza/flu is spread. The incubation period is 2-19 day.  Patients are most contagious when they are symptomatic, but possible asymptomatic as well. Most of infected people have mild cold-like symptoms and fever. But in some severe cases pneumonia and death, which what we are worried about.

Number of deaths in China is pretty high but may not reflect the mortality rates in other parts of the world with lack of hospital staff, medical supplies, ICU beds, and test kits that China is facing.

Here are WHO numbers as of February 29, 2020: of the 79,394 reported cases in China, there have been 2838 deaths, which puts the mortality rate in China at 3.5%. Outside of China: 86 deaths out of the 6,009 cases, which is a 1.4% mortality rate. Compare this to the mortality rate of influenza, which is estimated to be around 0.095% in the US.

The risk of death increases with age- over 80 the highest risk factor. The fatality rate of patients over 80 years old was estimated to be 14.8%. In people under 50 appears death is unlikely, with the mortality rate of 40-49-year-old estimated to be 0.4% and 0.2% for patients 10-39 years of age. Chronic, pre-existing medical condition also significantly increased the risk of death. Without any pre-existing condition, the mortality rate was 0.9%. A history of cardiovascular disease increased the risk to 10.5%. [3]

Like the influenza virus, the elderly and those with underlying chronic medical conditions appear to be most at risk for serious complications and death from COVID-19.

There are currently no specific antiviral medications known to treat COVID-19, Treatment is supportive with rest, fluids, oxygen, and more intensive care if needed. Some herbal remedies proven to be helpful:

Sambucus Formosana Nakai (a species of elderberry like Sambucus nigra or black elderberry that has been found to have anti-influenza activity) was found to have strong activity against Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63). [4]

There are studies showing the efficacy of various Chinese herbal agents against other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV and CHOV-22E9. [5]  These herbal medicines include: Bupleurum, Heteromorpha, and Scrophularia scorodonia ; Lycoris radiata, Artemisia annua, Pyrrosia lingua, and Lindera aggregata  Isatis indigotica and Torreya mucifera and Houttuynia cordata.[6]


We can protect ourselves by:

  1. Washing hands frequently, especially before we eat.
  2. Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth-the T-zone.
  3. Staying home if you sick to limit possible exposure to the virus, since the immune system is weak during this period or wearing a mask outside.
  4. Keeping the distance from people who have symptoms of cold.
  5. Irrigating your nose daily with saline solution, since the virus attaches through the nasal mucosa 1-2 days before it gets active.
  6. Some foods and spices have antiviral properties: raw garlic, oregano, ginger, walnut, pomegranate, green tea, apple cider vinegar, medicinal mushrooms- shiitake, maitake, reishi, cordyceps, turkey tail.
  7. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables will strengthen the immune system because of all antioxidant properties.
  8. Staying hydrated by drinking just water is important. Divide your weight in pounds by two and drink that number of ounces daily.
  9. Cutting down on sugary and processed foods, because it reduces the number of white blood cells, which kill germs and viruses. Keeping blood sugar levels low will help to strengthen the immune system.
  10. Get fresh air and moderate exercise, which can boost the immune system and helps fight viruses.
  11. Get enough sleep-it strengthens the immunity.
  12. Minimize stress, because it creates physiological stress in our bodies and makes us vulnerable to illness and increases inflammation.