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COVID 19; Risks, Facts, Predictions and Responses

Train Hard, Easy Fight. Easy Training, Hard Fight.

As the novel coronavirus has seen a global spread, questions have changed from ‘what is this virus about?’ to ‘how can I keep this virus away from me?’ and it is very understandable why that should be the case.

Everyone is asking questions, putting together facts about the virus and its spread, and somewhat subconsciously looking for information that says they are relatively safer than the next person.

Perhaps the most asked, and answered question so far is who is at risk and who is not. Truth is, we are all at risk of the virus, but then, international and national health organizations have given us information about conditions that constitute high-risk factors for the virus, especially as it concerns dying from the virus.

From statistics gotten from deaths already registered globally, the two major preconditions leading to death were identified as type-2 diabetes and hypertension. This simply means that anyone who already suffers these conditions is at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Except for persons whose genes already carry traits of hypertension and diabetes, everyone else can watch and prevent these health conditions simply by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Even if you carry these traits, consultations with your doctor to help you set healthy habits and principles that will keep you safe and healthy would normally recommended. However, due to the abnormal stress on our healthcare system, you may find your doctor unavailable.

Away from diabetes and hypertension, most other risk factors for COVID 19 can be prevented, managed or even completely reversed. Well, that would exclude the age and gender factor because there isn’t much we can do about that.

  • Heart diseases: people with heart diseases are at a higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID 19. They are estimated to be 2.14 times more likely to die from the disease.
  • Smokers: smokers are at high risk because their lungs are not in the best of shapes (even if they claim otherwise). They have been estimated to be 2.23 times more likely to die
  • People with chronic obstructive lung disease: again, the lungs are already weak. They are 5.5 times more likely to die from the virus.
  • People with asthma or any other respiratory health condition: coronavirus has been tied to respiratory issues; it is no wonder why such persons are at a higher risk.
  • Elderly people: for each year you get older, you are at 1.14 times more risk than the previous year. While the age thing might be pretty scary, it is not age itself that poses the problem; it is the fact that with old age comes weakness in the immune system, with noticeable defects in the T and B cell functions. However, that can easily be solved by boosting the immune system through exercising, intake of vitamins and healthy eating.
  • People with obesity are also at high risk for coronavirus, as well as other health preconditions such as liver, kidney disease and a couple of others.
  • Males have also been named by experts to be 1.64 times more likely to die by the disease. It has been experienced in Italy, and while the reasons can be tied to unhealthy activities such as smoking and drinking more common among men, there is no black and white reason as to why it is so.
  • People undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV, taking corticosteroid and other immuno-suppressants are also at a high risk
  • Diabetes patients are 2.23 times more likely to die from coronavirus
  • Hypertensive patients are 3.05 times more likely to die from contracting COVID 19

One importance of having is information is so we know how important it is to be healthy in this situation. Even if you have one of these underlying issues, you can begin to manage them as much as possible. Staying healthy is closely tied to recovering from the virus.

Coronavirus and the age factor

Many people believe that younger adults and children have nothing to worry about as far as COVID 19 is concerned. And while I can relate with their reason, taking a cue from what is happening in Italy and China, you cannot rule out young people as being safe.

Like I stated earlier, with every year you age, your likelihood of dying from the virus increases by 14%.

The coronavirus data by the CDC also shows that young people are not without concerns in this regard as they have the likelihood of being hospitalized due to the virus.

According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control, 14 to 21 percent of people aged between 20 and 44 are hospitalized from the virus; while the percentage of the general population hospitalized is between 21-31.5%. Now while they have a higher recovery rate and are likely to recover from the virus quickly, the rate of hospitalization among young people is not much different from the elderly; it is just that they are not at a high risk of dying.

What are your chances of getting the virus?

As scary as it is to think about or even accept, the fact is that your chances of catching the coronavirus are reasonably high, and this has nothing to do with how old you are or your state of health. Simply being within the population affected by the virus means you could catch it. Even if you are in a county least hit by the virus, its tendency to spread wide and fast still puts you at a risk. Perhaps, the downside of being interconnected with other states, counties, and cities is the fact that as easy as it is for you to travel around, it is even easier for the virus to find its way around in your home.

The only way to ensure that the virus does not continue to bounce back and forth from one state and into another is by enforcing a total nationwide lockdown, as we’ve done in the past weeks. And even then, you are only locking out the surrounding states; the virus already within the city limits will continue to spread and social distancing cannot do enough to stop it. The only benefit of self-isolation and social distancing is to prevent a spread that might be too rapid for the available health care systems to handle.

Research by the CDC has shown that the virus can last on surfaces for as long as 17 hours, and perhaps, it is not as defenseless towards heat like they thought. If it was, we would not be having cases of coronavirus in warm countries like Saudia Arabia and India, as well as most of the African continent.

Every measure that has been put in place now is only geared towards reducing the spread of the virus so it doesn’t shut down the structure that we have in place. Regardless of all these, some experts project that about 20-80% of the population will eventually get the virus; so the question we are left with is, when? How fast? And how long it will take before this happens.

Countries Instituting lockdowns; the how’s and why’s

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, many governments are instituting partial or total lockdowns while some are not. The reason for this is not hinged on merely the health impact of the virus but also the financial impact.

China pulled off a total lockdown and survived; Italy is doing the same but things are constantly deteriorating. The United States at this point was forced to institute a lockdown, but not without drastic economic effects as the spread of the virus is nearly out of control. Perhaps one difference between China’s lockdown and that of many other nations is how quick and proactive it was; as well as how thoroughly it was implemented. Here in the United States, there are indications that the economy would close down, as there are already too many cases than the United States can handle in such a short time. Perhaps, if we had shut down in January, things might have been different.

For Italy, a considerably late response is responsible for the terrible situation they are experiencing. The mortality rate is at approximately 10%, with the possibility of getting as high as 15%, however speculative. Deaths are already being recorded in thousands, and if the spread continues at this rate, things could get worse.

How is Asia leading the world in the fight against the virus?

From results and developments recorded so far, Asian countries like China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan were most prepared for the virus, and hence, they put measures in place even before some countries could understand what was happening.

In Taiwan, for example, the nation had its first case on January 21st, 2020; one day after the United States announced its first case. But before the first case was even announced, the Taiwanese government had taken a cue from the risk COVID 19 had posed to other countries and activated the Central Epidemic Command Center. Taiwan also mobilized personnel, and dedicated funds to the production of face masks, while placing a ban on exportation. Currently, the United States has a total of about 156,000 cases in the United States with almost 3000 deaths recorded, while Taiwan has about 298 confirmed cases with very few deaths.

How were Asian countries more prepared than the West that has never been unprepared for anything?

The Asian countries had experienced outbreaks such as SARS, MERS and Swine Flu before so it is safe to say that they had seen it coming, and were more prepared than the rest of the world.

Should we hold out hope for Vaccines to help in this fight?

Now that we have taken a look at all that has been laid before us, let us examine the hope of many countries- Coronavirus vaccines, and see how realistic it is to get them before the world is shut down by this virus.

There are two sides to our hopes of getting a vaccine for the virus; on one end, experts are hopeful that in the best situation, the world might have a vaccine within a minimum of 12 months if everything is sped up and maximum effort is put in place. On another end, there is a sad, but realistic possibility that the vaccine may never be discovered; and I say this without any form of pessimism.

In the history of medicine and the world, many diseases have existed and still exist without having discovered a cure for them. Take AIDS, EBV, and HERPES for example. If you check, there is an endless list of viruses and diseases without vaccines, and it is not due to a lack of effort on the part of the health institutions and experts.

While we hope that perhaps in 18 months or 2 years we would have a vaccine, we are also aware of how much damage can be done to the world’s population and finances before that time.

We should also bear in mind that the vaccine might never be made.

What next?

At this point, we are left with something very similar to the biological ‘flight or fight reaction’. The flight response would entail stocking up your house as much as you possibly can and practice social distancing for however long it takes this virus to pass.

The second and more productive action would be to fight. Fighting will entail getting your body healthy and fit to fight the virus. Fighting means you must maintain healthy habits, build your immunity, watch your respiratory and cardiovascular system and ensure that you are completely healthy.

The only weapon we have to fight the coronavirus while we wait for a medical solution is good health. Exercise regularly, take vitamins, eat healthy meals, and stay away from potentially harmful substances and activities. Stay fit, stay healthy, follow the news and stay up to date on trends and discoveries.

As we journey through this phase of our lives, follow the guidelines handed down from relevant health organizations and don’t slack on the topic of your health. We can only hope that we will make it through this phase.

Stay Safe and Sane.