So there is positive news about the dreaded Covid Virus that is not being reported in the mainstream media and is not being considered by our Governor or his task force. The good news is that for young healthy people like me—I am 70 years old—and people who do not have co-morbid conditions we should open up our society, families, and business, and get on with the business of living. Why do I say this? Because if you are less than 70 years old and you become infected with the Covid virus you have a 99.9% chance of recovering completely without sequel. If you are over 70 years of age that number drops to 99.0%. These numbers can be found in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal.
As infections are going up 150%, deaths are going down 88%. Why the increased numbers and decreased deaths?
It is not because the tests are more sensitive and it is not because there is increased cross reactivity with other Covid Virus. It is because the original virus has slowly mutated—called the D (614) g mutation making the virus more transmissible and less deadly. This is good news because for young people like myself we want the virus to spread quickly. The idea that in the end of the pandemic we could control the number of people exposed and infected was never a consideration. If you will remember controlling the rate of transmission spreading out the curve so that health care providers and hospitals wouldn’t be overrun was the goal, not limiting the spread of the disease in the long term.
The conceit of those nonscientists who felt we could defeat the virus was never shared by the public health or infectious disease communities. As the disease progressed—we have done a very good job of mitigating the disease, the cries of panic from the press who have their own agenda have become more inappropriate. We can only mitigate against the effects of nature—controlling this type of virus is for future scientists. Type 3 mitigation—protecting the vulnerable and elderly should be our priority. If the virus was becoming more virulent our strategy may require a different approach, but the virus is becoming less deadly. WE should take advantage of this situation and try to develop herd immunity as quickly as possible and young healthy people—particularly school-age children and young adults are no more at risk for dying from this disease now since the mutation than they are from previous select seasonal flue epidemics.
We are also taking care of those better who do develop more severe symptoms. Early use of therapeutics are keeping people out of the hospital. Aggressive medical treatments and the early use of steroids helps. Using ventilators as a last resort has saved lives and by using a different set of metrics for determining the need for ventilatory support has helped tremendously.
The general healthy population can probably do more to secure their wellness by getting a flu shot than any other form of mitigation strategy and this goes for the at risk population also. This current pandemic is a disease of the indoor environment. ASHRAE and CDC web sites can be interrogated so that nursing homes and work environments can upgrade their air filtration systems. Simply opening classroom doors and windows will significantly help with closed spaced ventilation. Gymnasiums and indoor swimming pools who have in addition to closed spaced ventilation strategies, should also keep windows and doors open.
Not enough has been discussed about strengthening the immune system. Vid D metabolism is critical in this regard and people especially the elderly and those at risk should try to spend at least 1 hour under the sun everyday even in winter.
Some notes of caution. Two weeks ago in THE LANCET—the British Journal of medicine there were described 2 people that had become reinfected with the Covid virus. Two out of many millions is not much but the virus that reinfected them had mutated in a way that previous immunity did not confer protection. Secondly, there has never been a successful RNA virus vaccine and Covid is an RNA virus. Finally, in a very small group of people who developed an acute inflammatory syndrome and were identified as being Covid positive, they all had lowering antigen levels and accelerated and high antibody levels. An immune system run amuck can be problematic in these types of cases.
In 1980 the military unsuccessfully tried to develop a vaccine to HIV-1 virus also and RNA virus, but because of the hyperimmune response—2 out of 5000 patients developed a Guillen Barre syndrome—the vaccine was never released.
It is crazy to say like Joe Biden says that we can defeat the virus. We can manage the virus and mitigate and protect the vulnerable. The lessons learned today will help us maybe defeat the next viral pandemic or the next. That is the way science works.
Let’s start living and open up—now.