Saturday, March 28, 2020

COVID-19 update March 28 2020

Here is today's update:

1) MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING !!!  TWO METRES APART MEANS THAT YOU SHOULD BE NO CLOSER TO ANYONE ELSE THAN YOUR OWN HEIGHT PLUS A LITTLE BIT MORE, OR NO CLOSER THAN THE DISTANCE FROM FINGERTIP TO FINGERTIP IF YOU EXTEND BOTH ARMS OUT.

2) WASH YOUR HANDS USING SOAP AND WATER, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE TOUCHED SOMETHING ANYONE ELSE MIGHT HAVE TOUCHED !!! 

MAKE SURE YOU KNOW GOOD HAND-WASHING TECHNIQUE:  SCRUB WITH SOAP, COVER ALL SURFACES OF YOUR HANDS, FINGERNAILS, BETWEEN FINGERS.

I SUGGEST CLEANING THE TAP WITH SOAP AND WATER BEFORE YOU START WASHING YOUR HANDS.   THIS HELPS YOURSELF AND OTHERS.

USE A CLEAN TOWEL AFTERWARDS.  OPEN DOOR WITH DISPOSABLE TOWEL, WHICH WOULD THEN BE THROWN OUT.

3) AVOID GOING OUT UNLESS IT IS FOR A TRULY ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY !!!   IF YOU ARE HAVING BRIEF DAILY EXERCISE OUTSIDE, GO AT A TIME WHEN FEW OTHERS ARE OUT, AND DO NOT GO TO PLACES WHICH ARE CROWDED !!!

Other issues:

- Masks are in short supply by front-line workers who need them desperately.  But there is also pretty good evidence that widespread usage of masks in the entire population could be an effective way to reduce viral spread. The mechanism would both be to prevent exposure to viruses in healthy people, but also to reduce the release of viruses into the environment by people carrying the virus (including those who are not yet having symptoms).

-I would like to see more and better evidence about how to make a useful, effective home-made mask.  I suspect that most any mask is better than none.

-There is some evidence that the severity of illness is higher if one is exposed to higher numbers of viral particles, so any tactic to reduce viral exposure, even if it is not perfect, may reduce disease severity in those who subsequently get infected. 

My previous post about "COVID-Hotels" :  this is an idea to enlist young, healthy volunteers under age 30 to be quarantined and deliberately exposed to COVID infection, in order to gain immunity, and in order to participate in extremely rapid, rigorous, randomized trials of preventative and active treatments, including medications and vaccines.   The risk of this approach would be approximately a 0.1 % death rate, but it would be done voluntarily, and the risk is equivalent to someone volunteering to be a soldier for a 1-2 month tour of duty in a world war, or of volunteering to be a test pilot, etc.  With the new info about lower disease severity with lower viral loads, the risk to these volunteers could be further reduced by using a technique called "variolation."

This idea appears not to have attracted any attention on Twitter (@DrGarthK), which I find unfortunate since I think it could rapidly advance research in these desperate times, where hundreds or thousands are dying from this daily, and where the existing research needs to be greatly accelerated.

All of these ideas are works in progress.  I admit I could be wrong about things, and I invite everyone to critically review, scrutinize, criticize, etc. so that the ideas can be corrected or updated or discarded as needed.  This is what science is all about, and to solve this problem we need to be doing the best science as quickly as possible, on a massive scale.

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