The Coronavirus- Now a Case of When, Not If
With the continued spread of the coronavirus around the world, one of our leading virologists has declared that eventually everyone in Australia will contract it. Most people will experience it as a bad cold, however the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions will be at much greater risk.
University of QLD’s Infectious Disease expert and Virologist, Associate Professor Ian Mackay, said it was unrealistic to expect that the virus could be contained.
“It doesn’t look like that virus is ever going to go back in its box,” Professor Mackay said. “And so we’re likely to have the virus become what we call an endemic virus, or a virus that’s just with us for life. We already have four of these coronaviruses, mostly causing colds. We get them every year. They peak during winter but they still move around between us during the rest of the year as well.”
“So it’s likely this might become one of those. If that’s the case, at some point in the coming months or years we’re all going to get infected because we’ve all been infected by these other endemic viruses. We know that they just spread among us.”
Professor Robert Booy from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance also said that COVID-19 would eventually affect a significant percentage of the population.
“It could be within a few weeks. it could be one to two months, [but] it’s going to come here,” he said. “I don’t think we can stop this.”
Children Safer, Elderly More at Risk
Professor Ian Mackay also said that the age group with the most deaths from the COVID-19 virus was the over-80s. “Younger people don’t seem to be getting severe disease.”
Chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy confirmed that that one of the surprising features about the virus was how few children seemed to have been identified as infected.
“It’s very unusual compared to influenza,” he said.
Researchers found most people only developed mild symptoms, and the fatalities occurred in people who already had serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.
So far, no children at all have been reported as having serious complications, and those most at risk of dying were aged over 70, with an even greater death rate in people aged over 80.
Unlike with the flu, pregnant women do not appear to be at increased risk of contracting the virus and developing complications.
How Dangerous is It?
The Australian Department of Health estimates the fatality rate in China is 3.4 per cent, however the fatality rate outside China was only 1.6 per cent. (SARS had a rate of 9.6 per cent.)
For the majority of people who contract the virus, their symptoms will be minor, such as a sore throat, fatigue, coughing, and a runny nose. However, a few may develop more serious symptoms like difficulty breathing. In the most severe cases, the virus causes pneumonia, which can be deadly.
Elderly people, or those with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, are more likely to experience severe symptoms.
What We Can Do
We will never get rid of viruses, as they are constantly changing and evolving. New viruses appear every year, and any vaccine will always be one step behind a virus. So how do we protect ourselves from them?
Just like reducing the risk of catching or spreading a cold or flu virus, good hygiene is important.
- Wash your hands frequently. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain social distancing. Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- Practice respiratory hygiene. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Seek Medical Care Early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
Improve Your Immune System
Your immune system is the only defence your body has against the coronavirus, and how badly it affects you is directly related to how strong your immune system is.
- Mildly Help Your Immune System- this includes getting enough rest, exercise, sunshine, fresh air, fruits and vegetables, and reducing stress.
- Moderately Help Your Immune System- over-the-counter products such as probiotics, vitamin C, zinc, etc.
- Strongly Improve Your Immune System- professional-strength, prescription-only products from a naturopath or similar health professional. These are individually prescribed for each person, and may include specific probiotics targeting certain aspects of their immune system, high-potency supplements, or specific herbal preparations. These products are very potent and effective, but as the prescription and dosage is tailored to each individual, a consultation with the therapist is necessary.
It is worth noting that when you contract a virus, your immune system will work out which antibodies are effective against it so that it can get rid of it. The body is then much better at dealing with similar viruses in the future, as it already has a blueprint for that type. (The more viruses your body is exposed to, the better your immune system will become.) So if you are a reasonably healthy person and you contract a mild coronavirus infection, it may actually help you resist these types of viruses when new ones develop in the future.
If you would like to strongly boost your immune system or just have it assessed, we recommend booking in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)