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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karen F. Miller

Stay Safe!

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

I'm looking at the calendar and feeling disbelief that it is already MAY 2020 and relief that it is already MAY 2020! I am feeling pretty safe putting my sweaters into a bin with cedar blocks since I live in Georgia but I am not feeling safe about being out and about without a mask. On my very long walk this morning I only saw about 6 people (it was 8 AM on a Sunday) but none of them (and there was a group of three women with their dogs) had a mask on.

So I thought I would share some of what I learned this week regarding Covid 19. I get virus newsletters, subscribe to a handful of news outlets and receive virus webinars every week with the latest news so let's dive in.

April 29 (a version was released in the digital NY Times earlier but the story to which I'm referring is from the print version on the 29th):

'Airborne Coronavirus Detected in Wuhan Hospitals'.

That's really all you need to know but I'll elaborate because apparently people don't read news anymore and maybe only watch programs where they won't hear anything that doesn't align with their preconceived notions. (I call that aggressively regressive).

Scientists initially said SARS CoV2 was only spread in 'droplets'. That would mean if someone 'projected' tiny liquid drops (or larger ones) from a cough or sneeze and you were within 6-12 feet you might either inhale some or have some land inside your mouth if you were talking or land on your eyes (viruses can enter through any wet surface) then you could easily be exposed and become ill.

You could also touch a surface where the droplets landed (countertop, door knobs, cell phone) and then touch your face and inoculate yourself with virus. This is why you need to disinfect surfaces and wash hands and don't touch your face.

The significance of finding virus RNA (genetic material from the virus) in the air in a Wuhan hospital means that if someone is in the near vicinity (down the hall, running 20 feet in front of you with no mask (person who ran by me this morning), driving by with the windows open because the weather is lovely, bagging your groceries or checking you out - yes, even behind the plexiglass, it doesn't complete surround them) AND they had virus in their mouth (several studies are now suggesting up to 25% of us have been infected and never had symptoms) and they spoke to you or breathed heavy (runner I'm looking at you) or were smoking in their car and exhaled smoke which can carry these particles - then you just got exposed.

Obviously, if all these potential virus-spreaders were wearing masks then there would be a much lower risk of you getting ill or exposed. (You still have to avoid touching your face and wash hands regularly)

They also found viral RNA on surfaces IN PLACES AROUND WUHAN - they went to a residential building, a supermarket and two department stores, finding viral RNA present, particularly in small spaces like toilet rooms.

Interestingly, they didn't find high viral counts in patient rooms in the hospital, which were well ventilated.

Other researchers in America had similar findings, according to this article, finding evidence of aerosol spread by detecting viral RNA under beds and on windowsills.

This was published on the NIH website on March 17

The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine. The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

The researchers still haven't determined if the viral RNA they found in aerosols is still viable and able to replicate itself. I recommend acting as if it does, better safe than sorry.

April 28 Antibody testing

This article in the NY Times (admittedly an opinion piece but based on facts - which we need to make good decisions) stated that testing in the United States is like the 'Wild West' right now and that currently there are more than 136 different antibody tests available, mostly unvetted.

This article, from April 24 and updated on April 28, talked about research being done in California to vet antibody tests. Of the 14 tests examined, only 3 had consistent results and even the best had flaws.

I watched a webinar Friday where a PhD in immunology presented information about antibody testing and what 'hoops' the tests have to go through to be valid. There are four other very similar coronaviruses that need to be used in test development to make sure there aren't false positives and that is not being widely done.

I don't think there are any good antibody tests available yet.

I'm on the hunt, as I have patients that want to be tested (and I want to be tested), but am still assessing. A test which isn't properly vetted will be more likely to have a poor sensitivity (false negative rate) and/or poor specificity (false positive rate). You want a high sensitivity and high specificity.

For example, a test I looked at this week had a sensitivity of 86% and specificity of 92% (and I'm not sure if they jumped through all of the vetting 'hoops'). So this particular test (running their own in-house validation testing) only correctly identifies the presence of antibodies 86% of the time and only correctly identifies the absence of antibodies 92% of the time.

You especially don't want to tell someone they have antibodies when they don't. So I'm still looking for a test I can trust.

So, bottom line, continue to wear masks when you will likely be exposed to other people - walking, picking up take-out, going to get groceries or gas.

Practice social distancing.

Disinfect surfaces (and please don't use disinfectant in or on your body!), wash hands regularly and avoid touching your face.

Be skeptical about antibody testing.

See my other posts about maintaining a strong immune defense system and go to my website and scroll to the bottom to download a list of nutrient dense foods and a handout from IFM on recommended supplements and nutraceuticals to boost your immune function.

Namaste, hang in there and stay safe!

Please note that this post is not intended to establish a doctor-patient relationship or diagnose or treat illness. See your Functional or Integrative practitioner for a personalized treatment plan or book an appointment through my online booking page to get started with your own personalized care plan.

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