05 Mar Coronavirus: Truths about COVID 19
On Wednesday, 2/26/2020, I attended a lecture by Mark Denison, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Infectious Disease specialist who is one of the 20 most knowledgeable people in the world regarding coronavirus. There are 19 people who know as much as he does about coronavirus, but no one who knows more.
Here are some highlights:
- COVID-19 is a new strain of Coronaviruses. It is very similar to the viruses that have caused SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) but it is a completely new human strain.
- Scientists believe it came from bats, its primary host, and transitioned to humans where it is now spreading human to human. There is no government conspiracy and it had nothing to do with pangolins.
- It has an average incubation period of 5 days. Once infected, there is a range of 2-14 days prior to becoming symptomatic. It is believed to be spread from the following: respiratory droplets, coming within 6 feet of someone who is infected for a prolonged period of time, or having direct contact with sputum serum, blood, or respiratory droplets of someone who is infected.
- Primary symptoms include fever, cough, myalgias or fatigue, and shortness of breath. It looks a lot like the flu. The overwhelming majority of people who have been infected have had mild to moderate symptoms. Data from China shows overall mortality to be about 2% but the vast majority of those who have died have been the elderly (>70 years of age) and those with comorbid conditions. To date, there has only been one death under the age of 19 in about 1000 reported cases and no deaths under the age of 9.
Dr. Denison’s team has been studying the coronavirus for over 4 years. They are in Phase 3 trials for the antiviral Remdesivir being funded by Gilead pharmaceuticals. There is a similar drug that is an oral form that is also just starting Phase 3 trials. Unfortunately, it is unlikely these will be available any less than 6 months from now. There are a couple of different vaccines in development, but these are also very new in the process and will likely require closer to a year before being available.
COVID-19 is different from other human endemic coronaviruses that may be responsible for up to 15% of the common colds. COVID-19 is a completely new strain. As such, it is likely to have a bigger impact on mankind as we have not developed any immunity to it. This is most similar to H1N1 influenza when it first arrived in 2009.
Things to do:
- Make sure you are on top of any chronic illness and medication needs. This is particularly true of asthma and respiratory illnesses. Now is the time to take care of these needs, so give us a call at 615-461-0656 to schedule any appointment you may need!
- Emphasize handwashing and carry hand sanitizer with you everywhere. Use it! Wash your hands for 20 seconds whenever you can.
- Do not touch your face.
- Check-in with elderly friends, family, and those who have multiple medical conditions. Ask what needs they may have and try to keep vulnerable individuals out of public spaces and at home by ensuring those needs are met.
- Wear a mask only if you’re sick and in public. If you’re not sick, a mask will not help and you might be wasting something others can benefit from.
- Cold and flu symptoms are generally best treated with over the counter symptom medications. If you suspect you may have been exposed and are suffering from COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms, stay home and self-isolate.
- If you’re sick and are unsure whether or not you need to see a doctor, consider telemedicine options. Doctors can assess respiratory rates, effort, and work of breathing via telemedicine. You can connect with us through the Anytime Pediatrics App (downloadable on the App store) or through your computer at https://anytimepediatrics.com/patients/. This is currently a cash-based service. We are checking with insurance carriers to determine if they are now recognizing standard telemedicine codes for payment of services. We will give updates as we learn if there have been changes within 2020.
- Avoid giving any thought to media reports and rumors that cannot be verified about COVID-19. If it does not come from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control, do not believe it.
Things to Remember:
Facing a new disease can be scary. It is easy to forget that we’ve survived H1N1, West Nile, Ebola, and Zika. COVID-19 has some features that may make it more easily transmitted than many of those viruses but it does not have the mortality that many of those have. Washing your hands and wiping down surfaces will cut down on spreading sickness. My fear is not with the illness, but with a panicked public who does selfish things that ultimately harms others. While we don’t have a playbook that tells us exactly what to expect, we are fortunate that information is constantly being updated and can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html or https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen.
Additionally, there will be opportunities for heroic people to step up and care for their neighbors during this timeframe. Take precautions, wash hands, stay home if you’re sick, and remember some ancient wisdom:
“Everyone should look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4.
Scott Huitink, MD FAAP
Dr. Scott Huitink loves being a Pediatrician and strives to support parents in the care of their children by encouraging, educating, and providing them with up-to-date medical expertise. His passion to provide high quality, personable, pediatric care can be seen in his face-to-face visits with children, his insights provided through his Facebook Page–“Compass Peds”, and his interest in improving the well-being of the community around him. Dr. Huitink has a wide array of experience in the care of children from newborns to young adults and has been instrumental in the education and implementation of clinical standards. He is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be found seeing patients in the Nashville area at Compass Pediatrics.