COVID-19 Prevention Steps and Medical Treatments
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all parts of the world. With the United States having the most diagnosed cases, I have no doubt that you want to understand the virus and know about all the COVID-19 prevention steps and medical treatments out there. You want to know what precautions you can take, how can you protect yourself, and what can you expect if you or a loved one gets infected with COVID-19.
In this article, you will learn about COVID-19 and some important preventative measures you can take. You will find answers to many of your COVID-19-related questions. I will also share some of the best medical treatment options and lead you to a resource on natural immune-supporting strategies.
What Is COVID-19
COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a group of enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses with different strains that may cause different illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV or SARS) in 2002 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV, or MERS) in 2012 that lead to serious illness and in many cases, death.
Symptoms usually include cough, fever, and shortness of breath, but may include other respiratory symptoms, digestive symptoms, and a loss of smell and taste. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, or by touching an object with the virus on it then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
In the next 2 images below, you can understand more details about the common symptoms associated with COVID-19 and how they compare to other conditions such as the common cold, influenza and seasonal allergies. In addition, roughly 50% of those infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and have very mild or no symptoms at all. You can learn more about COVID-19 in this article here
Taking preventative measures is critical for preventing yourself from COVID-19. To take effective preventative measures, you have to understand the COVID-19 virus itself. How does it spread? What is the incubation period of the COVID-19 virus? How long is COVID-19 active in your body and how long are you contagious for after recovery? How long can COVID-19 live on surfaces? It’s important that you know that answer to these questions, so you can take preventative measures effectively.
Let’s dive in and understand the COVID-19 virus better. Please note that COVID-19 is a new virus and we don’t fully understand it. New research and information are coming out every day, so it’s important that you stay up to date. My aim is to help you understand what we know now.
Washing Your Hands
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and healthcare professionals around the globe recommend regular and throughout handwashing to prevent getting COVID-19 and avoid spreading the virus if you are sick. This is, of course, a good practice for preventing other illnesses and infections as well.
You may ask why soap is so effective against COVID-19. The answer lies in its chemical structure. Viruses are protected by a two-layered row of tadpole-shaped molecules of fat, protein, and water. Soap molecules also have the same structure, and soap leads to a chemical reaction, dissolves this layer of protection, and deactivates the virus. It is recommended that you wash your hands throughout with soap for 20 seconds. Don’t forget about the space between your fingers, your thumb, and the tip of your fingers (2, 3, 4).
While alcohol-based hand sanitizers with 60% or more alcohol are also effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19, they are not the best news for your skin’s microbiome. Your body and immune system rely on the diversity of microorganisms inside and outside your body, including those on your skin.
Using hand sanitizers can kill some of this diversity and be counterproductive for immune health. Many conventional hand-sanitizers also contain endocrine-disruptive compounds (EDCs), including parabens, phthalates, fragrances, triclosan, and benzalkonium chloride. Overusing hand sanitizers can also increase your risk of developing resistance to these products and increasing your risk of infection (5, 6).
Conventional soaps also include toxic chemicals, so it is important that you use non-toxic, natural soaps. I recommend that Aloe Hand Soap, a non-toxic and very effective soap that can protect you from viruses and infections. If you must use hand sanitizers when out and about or when soap and water are not available, I recommend that you choose non-toxic options made with essential oils.
Boosting Your Immunity
Optimizing your immune system is one of the best ways to protect yourself from infections and illness and increase your body’s ability to recover if you get sick. Some of the top immune supporting lifestyle habits including having a positive mindset, optimizing hydration, getting good quality sleep, getting regular exercise, and lowering stress.
You want to be sure to avoid sugar, grains, processed foods and practice some level of intermittent fasting. Top immune supporting foods include ginger, onions, garlic, olive oil, bone broth, dark green veggies and berries. Some of the best immune supportive herbs include oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, turmeric and olive leaf.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, you’ve probably never heard the term social distancing, but now there isn’t an hour that passes without someone mentioning it. Though it may soon change in some places, currently most states are under a stay at home order.
We are asked to only leave our house for essential activities, such as grocery shopping or going to the pharmacy, essential jobs, and exercise. When in public, we are asked to social distance or keep at least 6 feet physical distance between you and another person.
The reason for social distancing is to avoid infections and protect each other since COVID-19 can be contagious while asymptomatic. There is actually no scientific evidence that social distancing lowers infectious rates, it is just a theory and makes some sense that it can slow the spread of the virus.
Some countries, including Sweden, have more relaxed rules about social distancing and don’t have strict or any stay at home orders. Their goal is to develop herd immunity. Herd immunity, or community immunity, is a type of indirect protection from infectious diseases. It happens when a large enough percentage of the population becomes immune to the infection providing more protection to those without immunity and slowing or stopping the spread of the infection (7, 8, 9).
I believe social distancing is important for those who have poor health and are immunocompromised and those who work closely in facilities with immunocompromised individuals. For the healthy population, however, I think exposure is important in order to develop herd immunity.
Cloth masks are not able to filter the air well enough to prevent the spread of the virus. Viruses are so small they can easily pass through the thread of the masks. The only masks that provide protection are the N95, FFP1 and surgical masks. Cloth masks are useless when it comes to reducing viral spread.
Wearing masks may also cause reduced oxygen consumption and increased carbon dioxide inhalation which can compromise the immune system. On top of that, if you wear the mask for more than 45 minutes or wear it multiple times without washing it, you actually increase your pathogen load.
I personally do not wear or recommend the use of a mask for a healthy person unless you are exposed to potentially toxic air. When it comes to COVID-19, I would focus on improving your health and immune system and allow your body to get the full oxygen it needs with each breath.
With this said, if you are in a medical setting or around immunocompromised people, it may be beneficial to wear a N95, FFP1 or surgical mask. As always, it is important to look at the various laws and recommendations in your state or country for the best protection.
Pathogens and toxins are everywhere in our air. COVID-19 particles can remain in the air for up to 3 hours. This can become a particular problem in offices and other spaces. You want to protect yourself not only from COVID-19, but other potential viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and toxins floating in the air.
Breathing clean air is also important for your immune system. This is where air filtration comes in to support your body by creating clean air in your indoor environment at home and at the office. Home air purification may be one of the best long-term health investments you can make.
Can We Kill COVID-19?
Besides washing your hands frequently, another important preventative measure is cleaning and washing surfaces frequently to deactivate COVID-19. COVID-19 is a virus, which means it is not alive, so we can’t kill it.
However, we can deactivate it on various surfaces by using a disinfectant. Cleaning products with solutions of 62 to 71 percent ethanol, or 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1 to 0.5 percent sodium hypochlorite, or 2 percent glutaraldehyde have shown to disable the virus on various surfaces.
It is important to remember that many disinfectant cleaners have harmful chemicals in them. This includes things like sodium hypchlorite and glutaraldehyde, chlorine, formaldehyde, Ortho-phthalaldehyde, parabens and others. These chemicals disrupt the skin’s natural microbiome and get into the body and when consumed in large enough dosages, they can cause hormone disruption.
The safer disinfectant components are the ethanol, which you can do 70% along with 5-10% hydrogen peroxide and then adding 10-15% water. The alcohol and the hydrogen peroxide will do the sterilization work without the toxic chemicals.
The multi-surface cleaner we use at my clinic and home is Mrs Meyers. While this cleaner is not approved by the FDA to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it can reduce and deactivate microbes with natural ingredients that do not contain harmful chemicals and they have a great fragrance to them. I do my best to avoid chemical based cleaning products and use natural products with healthy ingredients.
Can Copper Help with COVID-19?
Using copper is another way to help deactivate pathogens on your hands or in food and drinks. People have used copper to purify water. Many other societies drink tea from copper. Different cultures have used copper for disinfecting objects and other healing potential. Copper ions may inhibit bacteria cells and reduce viral spread.
Research has shown that using copper in healthcare facilities reduces microorganisms and helps to keep areas clean. Though proper handwashing and other protective measures are still critical, copper doorknobs and surfaces can slow the transfer of the disease (10).
While not approved by the FDA as a preventative step for COVID-19, I personally like to use a copper key chain to help reduce the microbial load on your hands. Roll it between your hands and fingers for 1 to 2 minutes to help reduce microbial debris on your hands.
Some people have seen good results when inserting the tip into the nostril the first two hours when noticing cold-like symptoms coming on to deactivate germs, avoid getting sick, or accelerate recovery. This is observational information and should not at all be thought of as a treatment or prevention for COVID-19.
How Long Does COVID-19 Live On Surfaces?
One of the major ways to catch COVID-19 is by breathing in droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze, or in some cases, breathe. Another way to get infected is by touching an object that the COVID-19 has landed on then touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes, allowing the virus to make its way into your body. Hence, it is very important that you wash your hands carefully after touching things outside of your house, mail, delivery boxes, and so on, and avoid touching your face.
But how long does COVID-19 live on surfaces? Great question. COVID-19 is a virus, so it is technically not alive, however, it can stay active for days on various surfaces. How long it remains active depends on the surface. You need to understand this in order to protect yourself. New information is coming out every day, however, the speculation about the activity of COVID-19 is mainly based on research on other coronaviruses. This is what we know about how long different coronaviruses and related viruses may remain active on various surfaces (11):
- Steel: The Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was observed to stay active on steel for up to 48 hours. Some strains, such as MERS-TGEV ad MVH stayed active for 28 days or longer.
- Aluminum: Endemic human coronaviruses (HCov) strain 229E can stay active for up to 5 days and 229E and OC43 for up to 2 to 8 hours on aluminum.
- Metal: The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) P9 strain was active on metal for 5 days.
- Paper: The GVU6 strain of SARS-CoV was shown to stay active for up to 24 hours while the P9 strain could stay active for 5 days on paper.
- Wood: The P9 strain of SARS-CoV can stay active for 4 days on wood.
- Plastic: SARS-CoV strains remained active on plastic for 4 to 9 days, MERS-CoV strains for 2 to 6 days, and HCoV strains for up to 48 hours.
- Glass: The P9 strain of SARS-CoV can last on glass for 4 days while the 229E strain can remain active for 5 days.
- Ceramic: The 229E strain of HCoV can stay active on ceramic for 5 days.
- Latex: The 229E and OC43 strains of HCoV may last for 8 hours or longer on latex gloves.
- Teflon: The 229E strain of HCoV can stay active on Teflon for 5 days.
- Silicon: The 229E strain of HCoV can survive on silicone rubber for up to 5 days
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): SARS-CoV can last for 5 days on PVC plastic, including window frames, vinyl clothing, plumbing parts, and shower curtains.
How About Your Clothes and COVID-19?
There is no solid research on how long COVID-19 can stay active on clothes and other fabrics. Some research suggests that some bacteria may survive for a few minutes while others stay alive for up to 90 days on clothing, towels, and other fabrics. The same may hold true for viruses.
Since we don’t know enough information, it is recommended that you wash your clothes after having in contact with the virus or suspecting the risk of being in contact with it. If you are using cloth facemask, it is recommended not to wear it for more than 30 minutes and definitely do not wear it more than once without washing it. If you are caring for someone with COVID-19, make sure to use gloves and wash their clothes separately in hot water (12, 13).
What Is the Incubation Period of the Coronavirus?
Based on what we know now, COVID-19 has an average incubation period of 5.1 to 6.4 days. The shortest period seems to be 2.1 days and the longest one seems to be 14.7 days, however, some evidence suggests that may be outliers with an incubation period of up to 27 days.
It is also important to know that there are also people who remain completely asymptomatic or experience only very mild symptoms they barely notice. The common advice is to wait for a total of 14 days after being in contact with a sick person to see if symptoms develop (14, 15, 16)
How Long Is Recovery from COVID-19?
Most mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 recover within about 14 days after the start of their symptoms. In more severe and critical cases recovery can take up to three to six weeks. Recovery time may depend on the individual’s immune system strength and overall strength (17).
Fortunately, we know from the most recent studies done on asymptomatic individuals in California that between 4-7% have already created antibodies which indicates exposure and immunity. This also let’s us know that if we extrapolate that data, COVID-19 only has a case fatality rate of .1-.25% which is more in line with a bad flu season.
Is COVID-19 Contagious After Recovery?
It is understandable that you want to know if you can infect someone even after recovery. Some evidence suggests that people who have recovered from COVID-19 may still carry the DNA of the virus for up to 13 days after recovery.
Health practitioners recommend up to 14 days of quarantine after the contagious phase has passed to avoid infecting others (18, 19). For younger, healthier people getting exposure and buidling antibodies and natural resiliance can be beneficial. But you want to avoid being around older and immunocompromised people so you don’t spread the virus to them.
Can You Get COVID-19 More Than Once?
The answer is that we don’t know. Viruses are known to change and evolve over time. For example, the flu has various strains, therefore it’s possible to get sick with the flu more than once even within the same season. COVID-19 is new and we don’t have enough information to know if it will be a similar case. What we know is that viruses can evolve through mutation and genetic recombination.
Mutation is a change in the genetic material that allows a virus to take on a different host, for example, jumping from animal to human. COVID-19 has probably gone through a few mutations before making it to human cells and starting this current pandemic. Since COVID-19 has a 90 to 98 same RNA as a 2018 bat-derived SARS-CoV, it is speculated that a relative of this virus might’ve mutated a few times before making it to human cells. MERS-CoV was also compared to a bat coronavirus, NKU4 that likely went through two mutations before transmitting to humans.
Genetic recombination is a rearrangement of DNA or RNA sequences. It happens through rejoining, breakage, or copying of chromosomes or chromosome sequences allowing people to get infected by the same virus through a different, often stronger, strain. However, having been infected with one strain may make you stronger in recovering from another strain.
While mutations and recombination of the genetic material of a virus can certainly lead to getting infected by a virus again, we do not have enough conclusive evidence when it comes to COVID-19. At this point, we don’t have information to know if reinfection is possible (20, 21, 22, 23, 24).
Is Ventilation Effective?
You probably know that the most serious cases of COVID-19 are often put on ventilators at the hospital. You might’ve even heard about the ventilator shortage hospitals are facing and many are worried about. But it turns out ventilation may not be as effective as we once thought.
Doctors have observed that while many patients with severe COVID-19 have extremely low blood oxygen levels, they are not gasping for air, passing out, or experiencing racing heart. They are experiencing silent hypoxia. It appears that COVID is impacting the red blood cells hemoglobin oxygen carrying capacity. They have also observed that ventilators are often not helpful and may even be damaging to patients.
Normal oxygen saturation at sea level is between 94 and 100 percent. For COVID-19 patients, it can be as low as 50 percent. It is wise to be able to test your oxygen saturation to see if it begins to drop well before things get to a severe level. A pulse oximeter is a simple device that you can buy without a prescription online or at a local pharmacy. You simply place it on your fingertip, press a button, and it reads your oxygen saturation level (along with your pulse rate).
Rather than ventilation, some experts suggest that less invasive methods, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, the sleep apnea device) and bilevel positive airway pressure ventilators (BiPAP) may be more appropriate for patients. Hyperbaric oxygen used for decompression sickness, a hazard of scuba diving may also be a more effective treatment because it pressurizes the oxygen deep into the tissues (25).
Potential Medical Treatments
Now that you understand more about COVID-19 and learned some important preventative methods, you are likely curious about the best medical treatments out there. I want to emphasize that COVID-19 is a new virus, we don’t have a complete understanding of how it works, and research is on-going.
This means that new potential medical treatments – both pharmaceutical and natural – can surface any day, and we will likely find some exciting new options over time. Based on what we know now, these are some options that show promise.
It is important to remember that these statements are not supported by the FDA as treatments for COVID-19 at this time because more human trials are needed before they can approve such modalities. This is meant for information purposes only and not as approved medical treatments.
Chloroquine, Zinc, and Antibiotics
Hydroxychloroquine, or chloroquine is an immunosuppressive drug that has been used for malaria prevention and treatment, as well as the treatment of certain autoimmune conditions. It has been tested and has shown some promise for similar strains such as SARS-CoV. This drug has received much attention in the media for its potential promise for COVID-19, however, research is still ongoing to prove its effectiveness.
The attention to chloroquine is not surprising if you understand how the drug works. Emerging theories suggest that in severe cases of the COVID-19 infection serious lung problems may not be due to lung damage but a massive oxidative stress overload that interferes with the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the tissues. Similar things can also be observed in malaria and other pathogenic infections, hence it would make sense to see benefits from an anti-malarial drug.
Chloroquine Is a Zinc Ionophore
Another reason chloroquine may be effective is zinc. Chloroquine is a zinc ionophore which means it can help your body to let zinc into your cells. Zinc is a powerful mineral that may support your immune system, offer antioxidant support, and fight viral infections effectively.
Interestingly, some COVID-19 patients report a loss of smell and taste which is also often caused by zinc deficiency suggesting that COVID-19 patients may benefit from zinc and chloroquine allowing zinc to enter the cells (26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31).
A recent Medical Hypothesis article suggested a dosage of around 200 mg of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) along with 20 mg of zinc taken twice daily for the average sized adult (32).
COVID-19, Chloroquine and The Lancet Study
In a recent article from one of the world’s prestigious medical journals, The Lancet, one of the largest observational studies were conducted using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatment aid for those diagnosed in-hospital with COVID-19 (33).
The paper had reported on negative effects of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment option, leading to much controversy over the use of the drug. Their study included 671 hospitals spanning 6 continents with almost 100,000 people in the study. The results? Not promising at all despite the mounting evidence in many other articles arguing that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine coupled with zinc (one of zinc’s critical roles in immune function is its role in thymulin production and activity) can inhibit the COVID-19 infection.
So, what happened with the Lancet publication? I mean this study put a screeching halt to the use of now-to-be considered “miracle” drugs of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. However, investigation began, and retraction of this article followed! So many questions were raised from this study which begs the question, “Why the retraction?”
After much digging in the research it comes down to who and what Surgisphere Inc. is. This company who provided the underlying database of information that was analyzed in the study, refused to grant access to its raw data for independent review and verification of its origins. Therefore, the study’s authors did not release the full data underlying the study and did not say which countries or hospitals contributed data, said from a letter written to the editor of The Lancet on May 28th, 2020.
Today, three authors—all the coauthors on the study except Surgisphere founder and CEO Sapan Desai—contacted The Lancet to retract their report. “They were unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis,” the retraction notice in The Lancet reads. “As a result, they have concluded that they ‘can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.’” This kind of ‘error’ in publication has dramatic consequences.
Publications like these in one of the most respected medical journals in the world bring about major influence on how treatments are conducted and their efficacy and safety for use. Given the academic gravitas and scholastic accolades of these men it makes publication far easier so there is no focus on verifying their legitimacy. Should there be more scrutiny for the many journals and their publications? Absolutely.
COVID and Bacterial Co-Infections
A popular combination is chloroquine, zinc, and an antibiotic combination. Zinc may help the body to fight the virus and chloroquine may help zinc to enter the cells.
Adding antibiotics to the mix may help to reduce bacterial co-infections that take place when the endothelial lining is disrupted from the viral cytokine storm. Hence this treatment combination may be promising for the treatment of severe COVID-19 cases (34).
A French study published on June 25th, 2020, looked at 3,737 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and the use of HCQ and the antibiotic azithromycin (AZ). The study design had 3,119 (83.5%) treated with HCQ-AZ (200 mg of oral HCQ, three times daily for ten days and 500 mg of oral AZ on day 1 followed by 250 mg daily for the next four days, respectively) for at least three days and 618 (16.5%) patients treated with other regimen (“others”).
Treatment with HCQ-AZ was associated with a decreased risk of transfer to ICU or death, decreased risk of hospitalization ≥10 days and shorter duration of viral shedding. Although this is a retrospective analysis, results suggest that early diagnosis, early isolation and early treatment of COVID-19 patients, with at least 3 days of HCQ-AZ lead to a significantly better clinical outcome and a faster viral load reduction than other treatments (35).
Efficacy and Safety of Corticosteroids in COVID-19
Steroids and other immune suppressants are already being tested against coronavirus in clinical trials. There is a possible ray of hope for those diagnosed with COVID-19 with the emergence of dexamethasone as a possible treatment.
“Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19,” Peter Horby, one of the lead investigators of the study and a professor in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, said in a statement. He added that the drug should now become the standard treatment for patients with Covid-19 who need oxygen.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.’” COVID-19 results in excessive inflammation and a cytokine storm within the body from the immune system’s response to the virus. Dexamethasone suppress the immune system, which could provide some relief for patients whose lungs are ravaged by an overactive immune response that sometimes manifests in severe cases of COVID-19 (36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
But such patients may still need a fully functioning immune system to fend off the virus itself. While more studies need to be performed, this corticosteroid, does show some hope for those with ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and COVID-19. This steroid may be of great clinical value as ventilation has been shown to be ineffective for helping individuals with ARDS and is a virtual death sentence. Adding in the steroid shuts down the cytokine storm and can be life saving for people who are in serious condition.
High Dose of IV Vitamin C
Another emerging treatment method is high dose of IV Vitamin C. We know that vitamin C has powerful antioxidant and immune-supporting benefits. High dose of IV vitamin C has been used as an alternative treatment method for certain cancers and as a prevention or treatment option for the common cold and the flu. It seems like it may also be beneficial for COVID-19 patients.
Research suggests that ultra-high doses of vitamin C via IV may help to slow the reproduction and spread of viruses, suppress the over-reactive inflammatory response in the lungs, decrease cytokine release, and prevent cytokine storm, and neutralize oxidative stress. The reason for giving high doses of vitamin C intravenously is because this way it can be absorbed more easily and utilized intracellularly.
It also doesn’t cause any side effects such as diarrhea that high doses of oral vitamin C may cause. While research on the benefits of IV vitamin C for COVID-19 is ongoing, several New York hospitals have approved the use of IV vitamin C therapy for the first time and clinical studies are currently being conducted (41, 42, 43, 44, 45).
Research on COVID-19 is on-going and new information is coming out every day. I am committed to updating you as we go along. In this article, we discussed a number of things you can do to help prevent getting an infection.
We also discussed some potential medical therapies. These therapies are currently undergoing clinical studies to further determine their effectiveness. You can also check out this partner article on the best immune nutrients to calm cytokine storm.