At that time, 99% of COVID-19 cases were isolated to China. But for the first time, around Feb 26, there were more new cases outside of China than within. As of Mar 9, China now represents 73.8% of global confirmed cases. There are now confirmed cases in 104 countries, and COVID-19 appears—in some cases—to be spreading by community infection (i.e. no clear source of infection).
COVID-19’s global presence and apparently increased transmission efficiency is technically a pandemic. But the World Health Organization is reserving that term for later use, probably in an effort to prevent panic. While COVID-19 is pandemic, I believe there is optimism in this shifting tide…
The number of COVID-19 cases in China is declining. Mainly, this may be attributed to the widespread quarantine measures taken, but also to the possibility that the infections have peaked. So, within a couple months, ground-zero China has been able to get a good handle on this novel virus.
This is optimistic for us because we have the benefit of China’s experience and the capability to compress their timeframe in resolving the caseload.
As the world watched China grapple with COVID-19, we’ve had time to prepare. We’ve increased our awareness of the risks of community transmission; our healthcare system has been anticipating increased cases as a natural progression of a novel infectious disease; and we obtained the DNA of SARS-CoV-2, early on, to get started on a vaccine.*
[Update, 3/14/20: A good friend corrected me on the “DNA of SARS-Cov-2” as follows…
The virus doesn’t contain DNA, only viral RNA. This is why it’s been challenging to perform the tests, RNA degrades easily and special reagents are required to prevent exposure to RNAase enzymes found abundantly on our skin etc…
RNA has to be stabilized and protected so it can undergo PCR to form cDNA (antisense RNA)–not naturally occurring–which is more stable; and this is what is sequenced to determine if a person is infected with COVID-19.
Much appreciated, S.G.]
While there has been a delay in the availability of COVID-19 testing kits, we still have the benefit of prior knowledge. We know the symptoms, the severity and the risks. The risk of community transmission is still relatively low, and we can mitigate that risk further by sticking to standard precautions.
Also at the time of my previous post, the fatality rate was 3%. This is relatively unchanged. As of Mar 9, the global fatality rate is 3.5%. Outside of China, it is 2.4%. The fatality rate is greater in China, as they were ground zero, with no advance measures in place.
The last statistic we looked at was the basic reproduction number, R0. It is the average number of people that a contagious person can be expected to infect. In my last post, R0 ranged from 1.4-5.5. This range is fairly broad due to a discrepancy between sources. Currently, R0 remains within that range. The median is 2.79. Since this number has always been above 1.0, statistically it is no surprise that COVID-19 continues to spread. “Spread” does not mean unmanageable.
So now that it’s here, what do we do? We recognize that we are not defenseless…
If you suspect you may have COVID-19 and your symptoms are not severe, then try to self-quarantine and not overload healthcare facilities so they can accommodate more severe cases. In self-quarantine, follow supportive care by focusing on rest and nourishment. Protein and fluids are required.
Think: chicken soup, or porridge (with chicken or egg). With added herbs:
- Astragalus root for immune system support
- Ginger and licorice root for cough
If you have a high fever, and a lancet (30 gauge or above), lightly prick the apex of either ear to quickly lower the fever.** Find the apex by folding your ear forward to the side of your face; the apex is located at the kink on top of your ear. If you have a mild fever, let it run its course and focus on water intake. (Fever is part of our defense mechanism against pathogens.)
While the U.S. healthcare system gets a poor grade in managing chronic disease, I believe this is the place to be for the treatment of severe infectious disease. We have the facilities, innovation and expertise. So, if you have severe symptoms, do not hesitate to tap into our healthcare system.
After 14 days of being symptom-free, seek acupuncture to revitalize your health and tone your immune system.
And if you’re looking for hand sanitizer, wait a couple months. Soon they’ll be sold for dimes on a street corner near you, as hoarders dump their supplies.
*A vaccine is a long-term solution. It can take 1.5-2 years, at best, to go from drug discovery to broad market availability.
**Pricking the ear with a safety lancet is simple and painless, but technique matters. If you’re uncomfortable with your technique, then seek a professional to perform the procedure. I am not responsible for your technique.
Carl Balingit is a former engineer who applies rational thought to the often subjective nature of traditional healing. He practices acupuncture in San Diego, CA.
He also prescribes Chinese herbal formulas. The herbs do not necessarily come from China.