COVID-19: The Long Haul

Amidst the constant coverage about the COVID Pandemic, it’s a challenge to focus down to a useful and meaningful message for you all.  There is much confusion about how to address COVID-19.  Whether you believe in the fringe theory of herd immunity or follow the major science and act accordingly by wearing a mask, practicing frequent hand washing, and avoiding social gatherings (especially indoors), the increasing spike of hospitalizations and following deaths warrant that the best strategy is to strengthen and look after your immune system, in addition to the social and physical precautions.  One study in Japan showed positive cases increased by 19x if the person had eaten at an indoor restaurant or bar.  It is true, the death rate is lower amongst younger and healthy people, unfortunately, this fact makes it all the more likely for them to spread it to their more vulnerable loved ones, completely unknowingly.  Please, remain vigilant and be meticulous in your practices of self-protection from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus.  Another study has shown that even if you are heavily exposed to the virus, if you wear a mask, the transmission rate drops by 83% and the overall viral load is substantially less, causing a milder illness.

How to look after your immune system: Step One: make sleep a serious priority— as serious as anything you can muster in your life.  Step Two: seek out the healthiest food you can manage for yourself.  Prioritize high nutritional organic/low to zero toxin foods.  My green and purple smoothie is a quick and easy solution.  Always buy organic produce and humanely sourced meat if you can.  The knock-on effects of these every day choices are significant for the Environment and Climate as well as for your body.  Step Three: optimize your Functional Medicine Immune Support, which includes exercise outside while keeping your distance.

Many of my colleagues received letters from the FTC demanding that they stop writing about nutritional supplements in light of strengthening your antiviral immune system.  Quietly, here again, is my protocol for this threat.  This is moderate level support, designed to already be in effect should you be exposed.  If you do get sick, the dosages need to increase, and I also recommend the addition of green myrtle essential oil to be applied to the back lower rib area if you get sick.

1 NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) 600mg 1b4Bk

1 Quercetin 250mg 1Bk

2 Vitamin D3 1000 IU 1Bk, 1D

1 Zinc 15mg (such as citrate, bisglycinate, gluconate, picolinate) 1D

1 Vitamin C Complex 1000mg 1Bk

1 Selenomethionine 200mcg 1Bk

1 Organic Garlic cap 1Bk

1 Probiotics 25 billion or more 1 bed

I hope by now you all have a thermometer (in case of fever of 100.4 and above) and a pulse oximeter which shows the percentage of oxygen in your blood.  A reading of 90 or below on the puls-ox means it is time to go to the hospital.  Do not hesitate.  If a friend gets sick, perhaps let them use it.  If you are recovering at home, remember to sleep on your stomach with a pillow supporting the shoulder on the side to which your face is turned.

Amongst my patients, there have been only 9 cases with positive test results, with 4 strongly suspected. These individuals may get antibody tests later.  All 13 have done very well using home therapeutics.  None went to the hospital or urgent care.

What about a vaccine?  It is true, there may be a vaccine available by the end of the year, but pharmaceutical companies have experienced setbacks such as a volunteer becoming ill during the trials, or the trial not being able to enroll enough participants.  Once a vaccine is available, it will go first to front line health workers and then next to Seniors.  The bar of efficacy has been set rather low: at 50%.  That is why there will need to be a second, booster vaccine.  Take heart: the scientists and doctors leading Operation Warp Speed are committed to following the strictest, safest scientific processes.  Once a vaccine has been administered, we have yet to demonstrate that antibodies (whether from having had the disease or the vaccine), last any longer than 4 months.  Many have asked me about the flu vaccine.  Ultimately, the decision is yours.  However, if you are strictly avoiding catching the airborne SARS-2 virus, you will also be protecting yourself from the airborne influenza virus.  If you are not vigilantly following public health guidelines or you have a greater exposure risk, then please do get the flu vaccine.  Eventually, a vaccine might be available to the general population by summer 2021 at the earliest and that’s if everything goes right.

I do not embrace the concept of herd immunity. In order to get 80% of the population to have antibodies, we would need to experience millions of deaths.  I think the physicians who are suggesting this have tunnel vision.  They forget to mention that antibodies (which confer immunity) only last 3 or 4 months.  With the incoming Administration, I am encouraged that Science will become our national strategy towards beating the pandemic, as it should have been all along.  Meanwhile, you can trust local leaders who are in your community and can see the data, and scientists like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx.  Beyond that, It is up to you to make the right choices.  Many have figured out how to avoid SARS-2 and stay healthy while continuing to work, albeit in an adapted way.  Smart adaptations in your daily lives are what will tip the balance in your favor.  For more on how to return to the office safely, this article gives sound guidance.

Testing clarification.  There is confusion about the two types of Molecular diagnostic tests.  The first is RT-PCR or simply PCR which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction.  The RT stands for Reverse Transcriptase, not Real Time.  This is the test with the long swab to the back of the nasal cavity.  It tests for the DNA of the virus.  This test is accurate 70% of the time, and it is the most sensitive test we have.  The other is the Antigen test, which is rapid.  It tests for surface proteins of the virus and is administered via a shallow nasal or oral swab, or perhaps saliva collection.  The Antigen test is less sensitive, but it is good at detecting a large viral load.  This inexpensive test could be highly useful as a public health tool because it detects when an individual is carrying enough virus to be contagious.  We could manufacture these tests to scale (about $2-$5 per test) for frequent use, whereby they could serve as a reliable tool to get our kids safely back in school.  Students could affordably test at home every day and stay home if the Antigen test shows they have a viral load at an infective level. Write to your representatives to let them know we need this.  Here is Michael Mina, PhD from the Harvard School of Public Health with a 2-minute explanation:

The Serological test is the Antibody test, which shows whether you had COVID in the prior 3-4 months and verifies a degree of temporary immunity.  The antibody test uses a blood sample.  In patients in my clinic, those who had positive antibodies, saw most or all of those antibodies disappear upon subsequent testing, a few months later.

The Long Haul: a large number of people who were sick with COVID-19 suffer with symptoms that last 8-12 weeks or longer.  Statistics show this as being anywhere from 25%-80% of post-COVID patients.  Since the disease attacks the endothelial lining of blood vessels and the heart, it ravages seemingly disparate systems of the body, including lungs, kidneys, brain, fingers, and toes.  Cardiac abnormalities have been found in COVID-recovered athletes months later.  The concern transcends sports.  In a small JAMA Cardiology study, researchers found abnormalities in the hearts of 3 in 4 people who had recently recovered from COVID-19 and "ongoing myocardial inflammation" in more than half.  Therefore, it is wise to give oneself ample recovery time before gradually training back up to fitness levels.  The most common symptom I have observed are fatigue and headaches with subsequent depression of cognitive function such as memory, focus, or decision making. Fear not: through Functional Medicine and Functional Neurology exercises, this can be reversed.

Good news: the rate of deaths per hospitalized patients is decreasing.  This is most likely due to people actually getting a lower viral load at the outset, due to mask-wearing, or due to favorable viral mutation.  We’ve had enough time to intensively study the global data on therapeutic treatments such as remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, interferon, and convalescent plasma.  None of the medications studied showed a statistically significant benefit, however intravenous NAC over time, did.  That and the monoclonal antibodies polycocktail which the President received, which we cannot get.

We have all been affected by the Pandemic, yet we must remain calm and actively work to stay healthy.  In addition to the guidance above, make spending time in Nature a regular practice. The Scandinavians call it “Friluftsliv.”  The word itself makes me smile.  Forest bathing increases your NK cells and monocytes which are essential workers in your innate immune system.

And if you want to get away, Hawaii is it for Americans.  If you have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of landing, you will not need to quarantine for 14 days.  Although there have been a few cases reported to have been caught during airline travel, at this point, the percentage is very low.  Aloha!

Copyright © 2020 Dr. Jeanette Ryan, DC, IFMCP, All rights reserved.
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