If you’ve been feeling anxious or worried during this global pandemic, that’s completely understandable.
But what I don’t want you to feel is panic. (Even in the midst of all the headline-grabbing fear mongering that even some doctors are participating in, as I pointed out yesterday.)
In the end, facts are the best antidote to fear. So let’s go over a few more facts today, and continue unpacking the complaints in the blog post about so-called “COVID deniers”…
“Coronavirus is just like the flu—it’ll all be ok.”
This is one of the first “myths” that the author in question set out to bust. But I’m sure you can imagine why I might have a problem with it. Simply put, COVID-19 is like the flu. Here’s why…
It spreads through respiratory droplets and surfaces. Handwashing is a critical means of prevention. And if you’re sick with it, you should be covering your face when you cough and staying home, obviously.
There are critical differences between the two viruses, of course. But it’s not because we have flu vaccines and an abundance of effective flu treatments.
Like most seasons, this year’s flu shot didn’t do much of anything for anybody of any age or health status. And anti-viral medications like Tamiflu may help shorten influenza by a few hours, if you catch it early enough—but the fact is, most people don’t. (And it certainly doesn’t do any more to blunt or shorten illness than regular doses of nutrients like zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, or vitamin A would.)
Yes, COVID-19 appears to have higher rates of hospitalization than the flu. But the truth is, without widespread testing, we don’t know what the actual rate is.
A figure like 20 percent sounds terrifying. But you have to remember that this rate doesn’t account for milder, even asymptomatic cases. In reality, the rate of both hospitalization and death among infected patients is likely much, much lower.
Which brings me to the next supposed “myth”…
“I don’t need to worry about getting sick. I’m healthy.”
Current research suggests you are less likely to become seriously ill if you’re healthy. Of course, there will always be outliers. So, continue taking care of yourself by leading a healthy lifestyle—eat fresh, whole foods, exercise consistently, and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Because leading a healthy lifestyle is the best tool for building a strong immune system.
It’s also true that the median age for hospitalizations in China was the early 50s—perhaps not as old as you might think. But mortality rates are still highest among patients in their 70s or older, and among those with underlying conditions.
This is no different from the flu, except to the extent that young children do not appear to be as high-risk.
So what is different?
Ultimately, this is a numbers game. The flu shot may not do much in terms of protection every year, but it doesn’t have to—humans have been facing off with these strains of the flu for a very long time. And there’s always going to be some degree of herd immunity to suppress the number of infections during any given season.
This simply isn’t the case with novel coronavirus. And that’s the problem. As we’ve seen in places like Italy, if a large percentage of the population contracts COVID-19 at the same time, it can potentially overwhelm the healthcare system.
That’s why public health and government authorities are recommending measures like social distancing—to slow the spread in the hopes everyone who needs care will be able to get it.
So it’s time to stop deflecting blame and do what needs to be done to get this thing under control.
And yes, as a New Yorker living in the epicenter of the American outbreak, I believe in all that we are doing. We must “flatten the curve” and do our part to prevent surges in infection by listening to public health recommendations and staying home.
But I also believe in encouraging those choices by arming the public with verifiable facts, not paralyzing them with fear.
P.S. If you’re looking for extra guidance to help boost your immune system during this public health crisis—or year-round—check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. This comprehensive guide captures my top immune health recommendations that you can easily follow on a regular basis. To learn more, click here now!
“How to Respond to COVID-19 Deniers.” Medscape Medical News, 03/20/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/927225)