Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice, just information provide for educational purposes.
What have you done to stop COVID-19 from sickening, permanently injuring, or killing your loved ones? This disease isn’t just like the flu, COVID-19 can leave the “recovered” with long-term debilitating physical, cognitive and psychiatric damage, sometimes even in people who only suffered mild symptoms. The current US toll from this disease is about 130,000 dead, with an 8% infection mortality rate. The elderly or those with common high-risk factors, like high blood pressure, diabetes, or a compromised immune system have suffered the most, but young and otherwise healthy people are dying or being handicapped for life.
Most cases go untested, undetected and with mild or no symptoms; the CDC estimates there are 10 unrecorded cases for every known infection, so the US’s tested 1% infection rate may actually mean a 10% infection rate. This is nowhere near the 80% infection rate needed for herd immunity; there are plenty of healthy people for COVID-19 to spread to, and plenty of damage to come to our society.
Being asymptomatic does not mean that Covid-19 is harmless to healthy people, however. There is much that scientists don’t know about the disease:
- Could asymptomatic carriers suffer symptoms later on? We don’t know.
- Are asymptomatic carriers as likely to spread the disease as symptomatic carriers? We don’t know.
- Could those who have “recovered” from Covid-19 be more vulnerable to other diseases as a result? We don’t know.
- When/can an effective vaccine be created, and how long would it last? Would it be effective against all current strains and mutations? No one knows.
This article will discuss the knowledge, methods, preparing the terrain, and supplements you can use to protect your family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus (the Coronavirus) is usually contracted when the victim inhales droplets/aerosol exhaled or ejected by a cough or sneeze from an infected person. There is a lower transmission rate possible from touching objects like doorknobs, keyboards and light switches that an infected person has used, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. The virus lives on surfaces like these from several hours to several days, depending on the material, the temperature and humidity.
The virus floats around in the victim until it contacts epithelial cells that line capillaries and arteries in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidney, and intestines. The walls of these vessels are normally smooth like Teflon, nothing sticks to them. The vessel cell membranes contain Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as part of a system to keep blood pressure in control. When the SARS-CoV-2 virus contacts ACE2 on the vessel cell membranes, some of the time a coronavirus spike will slide into the ACE2 like a key into a lock and give the virus entrance into the cell. About 75% of the time, the original COVID-19 virus spike structure will fall apart before it has had a chance to infect someone.
[However, a recent coronavirus mutation called D614G has been discovered, that has a more flexible spike structure, and this mutation has proven to be more infective to the victim causing more damage, and more infectious for higher person-to person-transmission.]
At this point, infection has occurred. The cell‘s reproductive machinery is taken over by the virus, and the human cell starts reproducing more coronaviruses, which are released into the body.
While scientists still haven’t determined how a Covid-19 infection leads to life-threatening clots throughout the body, it seems reasonable that the human immune system recognizes the injuries caused by the coronavirus and reacts to destroy the intruder. White blood cells attack the viruses, fibrin and platelets are called into duty to plug the damage inflicted on the epithelial cells, and this ends up generating clots in blood vessels that starve the organs of life-giving oxygen-rich blood. If the infected person is not treated effectively at the earliest signs of distress, the body’s immune system can be overwhelmed or start a cytokine storm, when the immune system gets confused and starts attacking human cells as well as the virus.
The usual symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Diarrhea or other GI problems
There are no vaccines approved to prevent COVID-19, although accelerated human trials on vaccines are scheduled for later this year. Having an effective vaccine in a year or two just isn’t realistic; The typical length of time for a vaccine to be developed is between 10 and 15 years. “The fastest vaccine that has ever been developed was the one for Ebola. That took between four and five years.” We have to learn to live with the virus as safely as possible.
Limit Your Exposure
The most extreme and safest example would be for you and your family members to seal the doors to your home, draw on your larder and stockpile for food and supplies, and wait out the pandemic until a vaccine or cure has been discovered. However, this would very impractical, uncomfortable and demoralizing for most folks. Most of us don’t have everything stored that we may need over the next year or two, we still need to go to work somewhere for income, and humans crave the company of others for information, physical help and companionship.
Let’s break down how to limit your exposure and discuss more practical methods for your family.
- Reduce the number of visitors to the home. Limit your exposure if they must visit. This includes friends, family members that do not live in your home, home maintenance people, etc.
Most business can be handled through phone calls, Zoom phone meetings, or email.
Folks visiting for pleasure and company can sit in chairs on the front yard, while you and
your loved ones are on the porch a safe distance away. My parents and siblings have a Zoom meeting once a week for “Game Night”, and it’s nice to stay connected that way.
Reduce your unnecessary trips out of your house. The collapsing airline, cruise and other travel industries are evidence that most people are taking this advice to heart.
Many grocery stores, retail stores and restaurants are surviving the ever-changing operating restrictions by providing curbside delivery and at-home delivery, while Amazon, UPS and other delivery services make most shopping in person unnecessary. Many public and charter schools (like my sons’) are converting their curriculum and policies to provide a choice of on-line only, in-person only, or a combination education.
- Reduce the chance of cross-contamination, by washing your hands frequently (about 10 times a day) for 20 seconds, and training yourself to not touch your face so often. In one study, subjects unconsciously touched their faces an average of 23 times an hour! The coronavirus can infect you only through your “face holes” (your mouth, nose and eyes), so wearing a facemask in public covers these vulnerabilities.
- Reduce exposure at work. Many service and knowledge-based industries are adapting their work policies to encourage working from home. This protects their workers educes company liability, and if this continues long-term, reduces the amount of office space needed for operation. Workspaces are also being redesigned to increase personal space for each worker and reduce needed worker interaction.
Most companies are also requiring the use of some level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the office or factory. The most important of these PPE are face masks/face coverings and gloves.
- Face Mask / Covering – Masks are 0% to 95% effective at stopping the coronavirus from passing through, depending on the mask material and how the mask is worn. All masks and coverings are meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus from the wearer to another person.
- N95 masks are the best of those commonly available at 95% effective, as they block particles down to 0.1 microns, and the coronavirus is about 0.12 microns in size.
- A mask with a furnace filter is up to 85% effective.
- A tightly woven scarf is about 45% effective.
- A bandana folded twice is about 30% effective.
Even though all but N95 masks have weaves larger than the coronavirus, they can still be effective because the virus tends to cling to materials it touches. It is akin to three NFL players trying to rush through a submarine hatchway – they are likely to block each other, or get snagged on the way through, even though each is smaller than the hatchway.
Masks need to be kept dry and clean to be effective and worn properly. I have seen way too many people at the store or in public areas wearing a facemask on their forehead, chin, or just over their mouth. None of these methods stop the coronavirus, obviously, but many people are concerned with comfort first.
Because N95 masks are considered the best, they disappeared from the Home Depot shelves in my area in February and are difficult to find at reasonable prices anywhere now.
After watching Peak Prosperity videos in January about a disease spreading in China, I decided to buy a box of N95 masks. I now use them in my line of service work, when I work in the warehouse or must enter occupied houses to work (I always wash my hands and use hand sanitizer upon leaving). Had I realized the scale and length of the pandemic, I would have bought many boxes to last for a year or two, but I did not, and now I am using each N95 mask until it is too gross to wear. That got me to thinking about a backup plan for when my N95 masks run out.
What is the next best alternative?
I was looking for a mask idea that was inexpensive, possibly washable, and could be made at home in quantity. The Suay Sew Shop in Los Angeles was working on such a solution at the start of the year. They tested a variety of mask designs and filter inserts with a PortaCount Pro particle detector, which measures particles between .02-1.0 microns, the range of most viruses.
We don’t sew in our family, but we were able to acquire some well-made pleated cloth masks with elastic. We bought a giant box of Wypall shop towels, and I cut each towel into five 3.25” strips, then folded them in half to make them double thickness.
Then I rolled up the strip, inserted it into the pocket of the mask, and carefully unrolled the shop towel to cover the entire interior surface area of the mask. Suay claims their designs are in the effectiveness range of 80%, which is a good bang for the buck.
Once you have used your mask for some length of time (that is up to you), you take out and dispose of the shop towel insert, wash the mask in your washing machine on “hot”, and refill the mask when it’s dry.
Long-term, it would be a good preparation for someone in the family to learn to sew, and stock up on more boxes of shop towels, mask cloth, elastic, and thread.
Gloves – For the general public, CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick. I personally use them when I must shop at a store, and when I have to work in an occupied house (company policy). The key to effective use of gloves is to put on a fresh pair right before you enter an area of higher infection, and take them off and dispose properly right after exiting the area. If you wear them any longer you risk cross-contaminating a cleaner area.
The followingis my best practice for hand hygiene at the store. It may appear extreme now, but as the infection rates climb, it will seem more and more reasonable.
- Put my form of payment (usually a credit card, no change received) in my right back pocket (since I am right-handed).
- Don my mask and gloves before exiting the car.
- Get a shopping cart and hold onto the it at the corners or anywhere but the handle, to minimize glove contamination.
- Do my shopping, trying to stay a safe distance from others.
- Go to the self-checkout, and scan and bag the items.
- Pull off my right glove so it is inside out, stick in one of my shopping bags.
- Use that hand to pull out the credit card and pay, taking care not to contact the high touch area around the card insert slot.
- Return my credit card to the right back pocket.
- Put my right hand in a clean shopping bag and collect my groceries.
- Dispose of both gloves and shopping bag “glove” after getting to my car.
- Use hand sanitizer, just in case.
- Remove my facemask, leave on the dash to “cook” in the summer heat.
Prepare the Terrain – Terrain theory says that if the body is well and balanced, then germs that are a natural part of life and the environment will be dealt with by the body without causing sickness. No one thinks that the coronavirus is a natural part of life (and I’m avoiding getting into the origins of Covid-19, as our mission here is to learn to avoid it), but the theory has a practical application – put your body in the best condition to fight this intruder.
Improve your physical health is by reducing the degree of your comorbidities that put patients at higher risk of a Covid-19 death:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic respiratory disease
That means, take your prescriptions as directed, reduce your intake of unhealthy processed foods, stop smoking, keep alcohol intake to a minimum, and reduce your excess weight.
- Get in shape for the race for your life. If you are exposed to the virus, you want your body to be in prime condition to fight its deadly effect. You do this by strengthening your body (especially your heart and lungs) through vigorous exercise. This topic has been covered in detail in previous SurvivalBlog entries.
- Stockpile and take supplements that make your terrain less inviting to the coronavirus, and other similar diseases.
Readers of SurvivalBlog are ready for many kinds of disasters, and many of us have some general
medical supplies, like bandages, rubbing alcohol, and various ointments. Those who wish to prepare their family for exposure to Covid-19 need to also stockpile enough supplements and medications to keep their bodies in good shape to fight the virus from first contact.
The following prophylaxis supplements have been recommended by Dr. Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity, mentioned at the end of many of his Coronavirus videos:
Disclaimer: Although self-treatment is discussed here as a preliminary or “systems down” method, if you suspect you have Covid-19, get tested and seek professional medical treatment.
The Eastern Virginia Medical School has a Covid-19 Management Protocol (pdf) that makes the disease progression easy to understand, and proscribes medications and that have drastically reduced their protocol mortality rate to 3.5%. This is far below the national average of 8%, which includes those doctors using the EVMS protocol. Their strategy is to use antivirals early, followed by anti-inflammatories and blood thinners to reduce clotting.
The protocol acronym is MATH Plus. That’s M for methylprednisone, a steroid used to reduce inflammation, A for ascorbic acid, T for thiamine (vitamin B1), H for Heparin a blood thinner, plus a variety of other medications such as zinc, azithromycin, famotidine (Pepcid), melatonin, and magnesium, which have been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of symptoms.
Ivermectin is a cheap OTC medication approved for treatment as a dewormer, both for livestock and humans. It has also been shown to be effective to treating a variety of diseases like Zika, West Nile, and avian flu. A single dose of ivermectin has been shown in vitro (in a test tube) to reduce viral replication 5000-fold in 48 hours, and human studies are going on now. I bought several tubes of ivermectin at a livestock store for $8 each, good for 7 or 8 patients, just in case.
I put together an OTC “Covid Kit” for my oldest son, when he left lockdown for a co-op position at an engineering firm, to be used upon onset of mild symptoms. He knows to get tested and seek medical treatment should he not get better quickly.
The 21-day kIt includes:
- Ivermectin – 15 mg, take once at onset
- Zinc – 2 tablets / day
- Aspirin – 6 to 8 tablets/day
- Ibuprofen – 6 to 8 tablets/day
- Vitamin C – 500 mg/day, increase to 3g/day if the disease worsens
- Melatonin – 10 mg at bedtime
- Famotidine – 40 mg/day.
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was overall chosen as the most effective therapy amongst COVID-19 treaters from a list of 15 options – 75% in Spain, 53% Italy, 44% in China, 43% in Brazil, 29% in France, 23% in the U.S. and 13% in the U.K.
A study by the Henry Ford Health Center found that early use of HCQ alone cut patient mortality in half, from 26.4% to 13%. Other studies have shown that adding azithromycin and zinc reduce death rates even lower.
Covid-19 is a serious disease that deserves your respect, and it is vital that you protect yourself and your family. Understanding how it spreads, using good methods of infection prevention and taking supplements before you are exposed will give you the best chances of avoiding its deadly effects.