3 Reasons Not to Worry & 5 Things To Do To Help Stop COVID-19

According to Oxford Dictionary, a pandemic is:

pan·dem·ic /panˈdemik/

adjective: (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the word.

noun: 1. An outbreak of a pandemic disease.

While the world is facing a crisis arguably unseen since the Spanish Influenza of 1918. While this is not meant to minimize the current loss of life, there some things that need to be put into perspective. Let us take a step back, breath for a second, and press pause for a bit. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Spanish Flu was an H1N1 Avian Flu that infected an estimated 500 Million people worldwide. This was an astonishing 1/3 of the total world population at the time. Of those infected, 50 Million deaths were attributed to the flu (remember World War 1 was still raging), with 675,000 deaths in the United States. That’s almost 50% more than Americans killed in the totality of World War II.

Just like with yearly flu outbreaks, children younger than 5 years old and the elderly (<65 years) suffered high mortality. What was surprising was that the mortality rates of healthy individuals between 20-40 years old skyrocketed. 

What were some of the conditions that lead to such an incredibly high death toll? Let’s look at three glaring issues that directly contributed to this massive loss of life.

First, there was no such thing a prophylaxis  ‘flu shot’ in 1918.  It wasn’t until 1938 that Jonas Salk ( yes, that Jonas Salk) & Thomas Francis developed the first influenza vaccine.  

Secondly, there were no antibiotics that would have been able to treat secondary bacterial infections. Alexander Fleming did not discover Penicillin until 1928.

Thirdly, the average person in 1918 had horrendous hygienic and living conditions. The war did not help matters. While Americans enjoyed above-average living conditions, they were woefully inadequate compared to todays standers.

So, what can we take away from this?

First, while there is not currently a vaccine for COVID-19 Corona Virus, scientist from all corners of the globe are tirelessly working on developing one. This geographical study means that work is literally being done around the clock, nonstop.

A quick side note: Even IF there was an existing vaccine, there is no guarantee that it would have prevented this outbreak. At the time of this writing, there have been 14,611 worldwide deaths attributed to COVID-19. The CDC estimates that US deaths from the flu just this season (October 1, 2019-March 14, 2020) are between 38,000-54,000. Let that just sink in for a moment... 38 to 54 THOUSAND people died in the United States in the last 5 months from a virus that has a readily available prophylaxis vaccine. 

Second, there are almost too many antibiotics in the world today. For years the medical profession has been pushing for the consumers to stop the overuse of antibiotics. Luckily, there are so many options available to help fight secondary bacterial infection in infected persons. Remember, antibiotics ONLY fight bacterial infection, and are completely ineffective against viruses.

Thirdly, the world has a higher level of living condition than any time in history. Does this mean that everyone everywhere has ideal living conditions? Of course not. But conditions in most regions of the world have never been as good as they are today. Access to medicines, disinfects, and clean water has never been as readily attainable than it is today. 

So, what did people do in 1918-1919 to mitigate the spread of the flu? Because of the lack of pharmaceutical based options people in 1919 initiated five intervention measures. 1. Quarantine, 2. Isolation, 3. Limiting of social gatherings, 4. Use of available disinfectants, & 5. Improved personal hygiene. Does any of this sound familiar?

If these five measures were adequate in slowing the spread of the most deadly pandemic of the 20th century, with the limited pharmaceutical options available, then they should be adequate to fight the spread of COVID-19. 

Panic does not let you think clearly. Panic does not let you look at all the available options. Panic does not let you see the bigger picture. Let us all take a step back, inhale deeply, and clear our heads. Remember, this too shall pass.

God bless you all.

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