As of March 25, with 67,778 cases, the US has the third highest number of cases worldwide.
John's Hopkins University School of Medicine, which is tracking all data related to the coronavirus pandemic reported as of March 25, out of the close to 500,000 positive cases, more than 100,000 have recovered.
The global death rate is 4.4%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
You know that COVID-19 is highly contagious and certain populations are at risk, but what exactly does that mean? What is a "silent spreader"? Is 2 weeks really enough to determine if you're in the clear?
And the one of the most asked questions, what's the status on vaccines and treatments for the sick?
COVID-19 is a stealth virus. The incubation period, the time from initial exposure until symptoms are noticeable, is 5-14 days, according to the WHO and US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You could be asymptomatic for days and unknowingly expose others.
Here's the problem and now a weapon against it: One of the newest discoveries is that an initial symptom of coronavirus may be loss of the sense of smell. Hectic schedules, allergies and "run of the mill" congestion can easily make a dampened sense of smell a non-event, until now. It has been added to patient screening.
With the health care system overrun, even if you recognize this newly identified symptom or any of the other warning signs, hospitals, clinics and even your doctor's office may be out of the question. If you suspect you have symptoms, experts and the US President are urging you to quarantine yourself immediately and try telehealth as a first-line option. It may reduce our exposure and exposure to others.
What Drugs Are Being Used To Treat COVID-19?
Several medications are being repurposed (used off-label) to help improve coronavirus recovery. Vaccine development is underway in at least 6 countries.
The WHO announced SOLIDARITY, an effort focusing on four drugs the organization has identified as most promising:
- A combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir
Hydrochloroquine And Chloroquine
- Doctors and clinical studies have reported success with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two well-established anti-malarial drugs.
- New York Gov. Cuomo announced he will begin trials with both drugs plus Zithromax (azithromycin) March 31 and ordered over 1 million units of the medications.
- A COVID-19 trial in France reported significant success with hydroxychloroquine and noted that results were more successful with hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin.
- Both drugs have side effects. Hydroxychloroquine's are reported to be more mild than chloroquine's.
- Unfortunately, two deaths have been reported due to people self-medicating with chloroquine (a man in Nigeria) and a version of it made for fish tanks. Both drugs require a prescription!
COVID-19 Droplets vs Aerosols
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found viable COVID-19 particles, called virion, in the air for up to 3 hours. Although the study was conducted in a lab, it could explain why COVID-19 is spreading so fast. Fine particles, called aerosols, are released through breathing. Droplets are larger and are expelled through coughing or sneezing. Equally dangerous, droplets land on surfaces and can be trasmitted through saliva, handshakes and other contact with the active virus.
The study also looked at solid surfaces contaminated with droplets and found COVID-19 could be spread by contact with stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours (3 days) and up to 24 hours on cardboard. Its rate of decay was fastest on copper, with no traces found after 4 hours. The virus concentration (titer) decreased exponentially over time. COVID-19's half life on all surfaces, except cardboard, was comparable to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another type of coronavirus. COVID-19 appeared to remain viable on cardboard longer than SARS.
The alarm is blaring for vulnerable populations including those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. On the positive side, if your disease is well-managed and/or you are within the age group identified as high risk, 60 and over, there is evidence you can recover if you do get infected. Do not mistake this as a reason to let your guard down. You are advised to take extra precaution.
Tom Hanks, 63, who has Type 2 diabetes and tested positive for COVID-19, along with his wife, Rita Wilson, 63, announced they are recovering. Geneva Wood, 90, and Eugene Campbell, 89, residents of Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, ground zero for the state's outbreak, are also celebrating their recovery. These are just a few examples with more on the way as resources, knowledge, and preventive measures grow.
Pre-Existing Lung Conditions
Illnesses that overpower the immune system take their toll on the body systemically. The resulting fatality is often consequential to the primary illness. For example, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, so it likely worsens pre-existing lung conditions like bronchitis and asthma. The risk of pneumonia can drastically increase in these situations.
Diabetes And Heart Disease
Why do people with diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases have some of the highest mortality rates? It appears COVID-19 thrives in a high glucose environment, one that diabetes creates. Researchers think that when the respiratory system is under siege, the heart may also suffer. A compounding factor is that continuous high glucose levels damage arteries. The leading cause of death for people with diabetes is heart attack and stroke.