General Nutrition

COVID – What You Need To Know In A Nutshell


February 2020 saw the identification of a new coronavirus affecting humans. The virus – SARS-CoV-2 – is identified by its genetic structure as the cause for the disease known as COVID-19. CO stands for corona, VT stands for virus, and D stands for disease.   This strain appears to have originated in Wuhan, China – the site of the first outbreak.  Prior to this new coronavirus strain, it has long been known that there are many different strains of coronaviruses that affect humans, the common cold being one of them.  Cornoviruses usually produce mild respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms.  But COVID-19 is unique because it has not been previously seen in humans before, is highly infectious, and has spread rapidly worldwide.  This strain appears at first glance to be much more lethal for certain age groups, especially for those who have pre-existing health problems.  However, it is not the first infectious disease of it’s kind.  It is related to, but different from, SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome) that occurred in 2002-2003 and MERS-CoV (middle east respiratory syndrome) that occurred in 2012.  While serious and not to be taken lightly, the media and many politicians have irresponsibly spread panic and misinformation about this disease.  So here is what you need to know about this newest coronavirus.

The Facts

To put COVID-19 in the proper perspective, it is important to look at statistics about current and past infectious diseases.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the case-fatality rate for SARS was 9.6%; the virus infected a total of 8,098 individuals during the 2003 outbreak and 774 of these cases were fatal.  This virus mutated and has now disappeared, with no new cases seen since 2003.  With regards to MERS, which still does cause a few dozen cases annually, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that since Sept. 2012 there have been a total of 2,494 confirmed cases and 858 fatalities, a case-fatality rate of 34.4%.   By mid-March, according to CDC, 36 to 51 million were infected with the flu resulting in 22,000 deaths.  COVID-19, according to Statista, has infected over 6.7 million people worldwide as of June 5th.  3.2 million people have completely recovered and there are an estimated 394,000 deaths, although many of these reported deaths also included people who died from pneumonia and the flu.  It will be some time, if ever, before we can accurately determine the case fatality rate for COVID-19.  The main difference between COVID and the flu is that the flu affects all age groups.  COVID appears to have the most negative effects on certain segments of the population:  those who are obese, have pre-existing health conditions, and are over the age of 80.  There is also evidence that those who are vitamin D deficient and/or have a blood type A or B are also more susceptible.  Frank Esper, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic, states that  “once these virus mutations allow transmission to humans, their survival becomes dependent on optimization of virus infection between humans”.1  This is why the health and governmental response has been to quarantine the population to slow the spread and mutation of this virus.  However, he further explains it “doesn’t mean it has evolved enough to become a persistent human pathogen”, meaning that it is not necessarily true it will come back and infect large numbers of people again .

As everyone knows, we are being told to social distance and stand at least six feet apart, although these prevention strategies have not been shown to prevent transmission of COVID.  We have also been told to wear masks, although this does not protect the wearer significantly, unless they are wearing an N95 mask.  Masks may help stop or slow transmission to other people.  But a review of studies of the effectiveness of masks shows they offer a false sense of protection.2  There are also studies that show  masks worn by healthy people may actually cause health problems.  Quarantining may have slowed the disease, but inevitably everyone has to resume life again.  Staying at home does not help anyone develop immunity against viruses and may actually increase the risk of succumbing to them.  When this pandemic is over, the post-mortem of how we reacted to slow the spread of COVID-19 will most likely show many unintended and negative consequences that had little effect on stopping the spread of this virus.

What To Do About It

The best strategy to prevent becoming sick with any virus is to eat right, get adequate sleep and exercise, maintain a good weight for height, and live a clean and healthy lifestyle.  There are also nutritional and herbal strategies to help strengthen the immune system to fight off these viruses, either preventing an illness or minimizing their effect.  Working with a naturopath or skilled integrative medical professional is the best way to make your immune system strong.  COVID researchers are finding that Vitamin D, Vitamin C, zinc, NAC (N-acetylcysteine), Quercetin, medicinal mushrooms, and resveratrol have a positive effect in preventing infection or improving recovery from COVID.   The Institute for Functional Medicine provides articles about integrative medical therapies and can help one find an experienced practitioner in their state.