Clearing the Air
As most of the planet emerges from the global lockdown, much has been learned about the virus and our collective reaction to it. What worked. What didn’t…and Where do we go from here?
From my perspective as a frontline healthcare worker actively treating Covid patients, I am in a position to share with you what actually works in the treatment and containment of this virus because I battle-test these hypotheses every day.
So, settle back, get comfy, while I tell you how to keep you and yours healthy and safe (exactly as I do for me and mine).
Covid continues to be a selective threat, targeting the elderly, the vulnerable (patients with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and compromised immune systems), and the unhealthy (those who are overweight, under nourished, and consuming highly processed food and drink). The latter group put themselves at greater risk of infection with every poor dietary decision. The good news is that you can immediately reduce your Covid risks by making better choices. Perfection is never required to climb the ladder of health, but you are unlikely to ascend it if you are weighed down with treats and sweets. What you just ate can boost your immune system or cripple it, and with the threat of Covid still in the air, your food and lifestyle choices remain of paramount importance.
Having successfully treated 100% of our patients with Covid, I can affirm that my Covid protocols really work. As a patient, you have exclusive access to and can immediately benefit from these strategies by going to the ‘Library’ section of my website and reading the white papers on Covid: “Stayin’ Alive” and “Advanced Covid Recommendations.”
If you or yours have any cold or flu-like symptoms (sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, fever, chest pressure, shortness of breath, diarrhea), I urge you to contact my office immediately and get tested. Starting treatment within days or hours of the start of symptoms is critical to limiting the potential damage and misery of this infection. Do not wait and wonder; call, test, and treat early.
Better still, follow the prevention and containment advice in my Covid white papers and avoid getting sick in the first place. That’s what my staff and I have done to keep safe for the past four months despite our daily, direct exposure to Covid.
In these white papers and my blog posts, I teach you how to go from being a pending victim waiting to get their ‘ticket punched’ to becoming a Covid-resistant, hardened target. My staff, my patients and myself have proven that these strategies work. You do not need to wait for a ‘Big Pharma’ rescue. Everything you need to stay safe and beat this virus is already available to you. Just learn it, then do it…and follow my advice daily to the best of your ability.
After treating so many patients with Covid, I will tell you that I do not fear this virus, but I do have significant respect for it, as do all of the patients whom we have treated. Let me be clear, Covid can kick your A$$. For many patients, it’s as sick as they ever remember being with a respiratory illness. Most patients will experience a mild or moderate flu-like illness, but nonetheless, Covid still poses a serious financial threat because of the mandatory quarantine you and your family will need to endure while you wait up to six weeks at home to clear the virus.
There is a lot of chatter now about the potential for a ‘second wave’ of viral infections and deaths. If this pandemic is anything like previous pandemics (such as the 1968 ‘Hong Kong’ flu or the 1957 ‘Asian’ flu, each killing 1 million persons worldwide) the viral threat will remain active for approximately two years. And with new Covid infections continuing to rise, it seems that Covid will very likely remain a credible threat for quite some time as we are only some six months into this pandemic from the US perspective.
The raw data show me that the ‘first wave’ of the Covid pandemic is still ongoing. While US deaths have dropped significantly, the number of new infections continues…which is OK. As I have said from the beginning, it is not how many people get sick, but which of us gets sick. Current mortality rate estimates for Covid are 0.1%, similar to a bad flu year. Even better, a new antibody study of Danish blood donors demonstrated Covid lethality to be 0.08% for those under the age of 70. That’s a 99.92% chance of surviving a Covid infection.That means the ‘average’ person’s risk of beating this virus is at least 99.9%. Those are pretty good odds…and that’s even if you are only ‘average’.
An important take-away message here is don’t be ‘average.’ While you cannot change your chronological age, you can rollback your physiological age (and your Covid risk) by adopting the prevention and containment strategies that are known to work against contagion. If you are already following my lead, then this Covid pandemic is largely of only academic and financial interest and not a direct threat to your life.
If you are a child under 10 years old, your chances of dying are about 0% (or as close to zero as medical math matters). Same for most young healthy adults under 30 years old. There’s a tiny risk if you are between 30 and 40. Between 40 and 60 years of age, the risk of dying from Covid is similar to a really bad flu; these deaths receive a lot of media attention, but are still extremely rare in previously healthy people. If you are between 60 and 80 years of age and mostly healthy, there is more risk from Covid, but the numbers are most devastating for those over 80. In one US study, the average age of death from Covid-19 was 82, proving that this pandemic is largely a disease of grandparents, not grandkids.
In most countries, a sad but significant number of Covid deaths occurred in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The very citizens that needed our protection most actually received the least because resources and attention were diverted to policing the healthy and least at risk. In Sweden, 75% of all deaths occurred in nursing facilities, with 86 being the median age of Swedish Covid deaths. Same with Canada which saw 90+% of deaths coming from nursing homes. In the US, we are currently around 45% of Covid deaths coming from senior living facilities. The two hardest hit hot spots in the world, New York and Northern Italy, are both believed to have suffered from grave mismanagement of Covid patients in hospitals and nursing homes which led to cross-infectivity from Covid victims to healthy nursing home residents and non-Covid hospital patients.
Florida was one of the few states that understood the importance of protecting its most vulnerable citizens. Despite having a large population of elderly citizens, Florida focused heavily on isolating the elderly and vulnerable and introduced relatively few restrictions on its healthy population. Summer camps, youth activities and beaches were opened early and without restrictions. Despite heavy criticism from US ‘experts,’ the Covid related death rate among Florida’s 21 million people remains similar to Germany’s admirably low mortality rate.
When you factor out these nursing home deaths from the Covid mortality statistics, the actual mortality rate for Covid approaches that of a normal or even mild flu season.
Since this virus shows no signs of letting up with regards to ongoing infection rates, we must continue to circle the wagons around the elderly, the vulnerable, and the unhealthy. These populations must be protected and continue to largely self-quarantine, avoiding crowds and close contact in any location without sufficient, outdoor-like ventilation. This level of air flow is necessary to dilute any significant, invisible viral clouds that are generated from Covid sickened patients who are unwittingly (perhaps) milling among us, with or without a cloth mask.
My medical office has stayed open and safe during the pandemic in part because of the air scrubbers that I installed in every room and hallway just before Covid hit the US hard in March. I have been recommending the use of these filters in ‘clearing the air’ which would allow all businesses to confidently open their shuttered doors. Covid is not born of black magic. The only way you catch it is by touching your face or food with contaminated hands or inhaling it. If you keep your hands off of your face, have your food prepared (and consumed) with clean hands, and breath clean air, you will stay safe. My patients and I further reduce our collective risk by using the food, lifestyle and supplement recommendations found in my Covid white papers and blog posts.
If you asked most small business owners (who have been decimated by the illogical and prejudicial quarantine orders) whether they would take a 99.9% chance of surviving a flu-like illness or 100% chance of financial ruin, I’ll bet that most would have taken the 0.1% risk. And the risk is even lower for every degree you make yourself: above ‘average.’
I feel obligated to inform you that the official position of the US Government and her regulatory authorities is that there no known prevention or cure for Covid-19. Readers of my blog posts and white papers should evaluate the contents accordingly. I do not claim to have any special knowledge or capacity, nor do I offer any guarantees, as they do not generally exist in medicine or in nature. If you seek guarantees, you will find them at the ‘Big Box’ stores.
My only claim is to be able call good fortune a very familiar companion. So, my best advice for advancement in business and in health is to know and follow the ‘lucky’.
Now, let’s take a fresh and unbiased look at the Covid data to better understand what happened and how to stay safe moving forward. For much of this, we need to look at how Covid has played out in other countries (mostly European) who are a month or two ahead of us in dealing with the pandemic.
Cough and Clots
For some patients, we have learned that Covid is more than just a respiratory illness and can become a disease that can gravely effect other vital organs. In Hamburg, Germany, their internationally recognized Krause Puschel, MD published a study of corona victim autopsies. In his research, Dr. Puschel found that the cause of death was largely due to pneumonia, which was expected and not surprising. However, in more than 50% of cases, patients also showed significant blood clots in their legs, kidneys and hearts. It has been known for some 50 years that severe respiratory infections (including a bad seasonal flu) can be associated with dangerous blood clots which increases morbidity and mortality. In my office, we screen all Covid patients for blood clots with laboratory testing. If a patient’s blood test is showing increased clotting risk, I will prescribe natural and/or prescription blood thinners to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening blood clots.
So, it is not enough to just examine and treat the lungs of a Covid patient, but it is equally important to monitor and mitigate other attendant risks of the virus. Hospitalized Covid patients are routinely screened for clotting risk, but this is less common (yet still necessary) in the outpatient setting. In my office, we treat you early and thoroughly in order to keep you out of the hospital.
Many studies have shown that children rarely get Covid and are also unlikely to transmit the virus to others. This phenomenon was also seen in the 2003 coronavirus SARS1 outbreak. That’s why in 2003, there were no school closures. Children under the age of 10 do not yet have the ACE2 cell receptor that is necessary for the virus to attack the lungs and other organs. Sweden never closed its primary schools and had no related problems with viral spread.
In Israel and France which reopened their schools, corona outbreaks were said to have occurred after the school were back in session. However, recent evidence of testing and contact tracing suggests that it was the teachers infecting their students, and not the other way around. The very conservative German medical association has given the ‘all-clear’ to reopen all schools and daycare because the virus is asymptomatic or very mild in almost all children. Furthermore, European medical authorities feel that there is no need for small groups, social distancing or masks for children attending school.
A country wide English study by the University of East Anglia and English medical authorities concluded that the requirement to wear masks was of no benefit and could even increase the risk of infection in healthy, asymptomatic people. Studies published in April and May in the Annals of Internal Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine, respectfully, also concluded that cloth and surgical masks do not prevent the spread of Covid and offer ‘little to no protection.’
Mask requirements were never introduced in Sweden because, according to Swedish authorities, it ‘does not offer additional protection for the population’, and Austria is set to lift mask requirements from retail and restaurant venues for the same reason. A German study of four cities also demonstrated that face masks had no effect on infection rates, and that only quarantine regulations were responsible for limiting the impact of the virus. The call for and insistence of mask requirements for healthy people was referred to as an ‘irrational fear reflex.’ Remember, cloth masks do not protect you; they only somewhat protect the person directly in front of you if you are sick.
So what is the protective value of masks? As I have previously written, cloth and surgical face masks are of value to reduce the spread of infected respiratory droplets of sick patients in settings where social distancing is not possible and where ventilation is inadequate. With or without a mask, if Covid patients cough, sneeze, yell or sing outside in the open air, the chances of your catching the virus are very small, especially with social distancing in place.
To safely share indoor space with viral-shedding Covid patients, the indoor ventilation has to mimic or exceed that of the outdoors. With Covid daily death rates flat or on the decline, we know that Americans can safely be around each other in certain types of buildings. For example, with social distancing and adequate ventilation, large retail stores (hardware, warehouse-style) and grocery stores have safely welcomed and served their customers. As smaller retail shops, restaurants, salons, and gyms open, they need to keep their indoor air quality free of stagnant viral clouds, as well as prevent crowding. In my opinion, the only reliable way to do so is with air scrubbers, which are inexpensive and still widely available. With the indoor air being actively filtered with a scrubber as well as ventilated with efficient HVAC systems, these ‘non-essential’ businesses never had to close, and can begin operating at near full capacity right now. We should never have allowed our shops to be shuttered, but rather taught Americans how to shop, just as they learned to safely do in ‘essential’ businesses during the entirety of the quarantine. Scrubbers can also be used to allow office workers to return to work.
How do you know if the indoor air is sufficiently ventilated to be Covid-safe? If you stand still inside a space and can feel the air moving against your face and through your fingers, then chances are pretty good that the ventilation is adequate.
With or without a mask, it is still not safe to be in crowds, either inside or outside. And by ‘safe’, I mean to not contract Covid because crowds will always be and have always been a source of contagion (think common cold, flu, and flu-like infections). But unlike these other common respiratory viruses which do not require quarantining, getting Covid has mostly economic consequences for the vast majority of its victims under the age of 80.
The media has long been reporting that many recovered Covid patients were getting re-infected, and then promoting the fear-based proclamation that people are never safe from the virus, even if they survived it the first time. These reports came from alleged ‘rebound’ infections from recovered patients in South Korea. When researchers finally studied the 290 suspected cases of ‘re-infections,’ all were shown to be the result of false-positive, non-infectious viral fragments that patients were shedding asymptomatically.
Kids and Kawasaki
Numerous press organizations have frightened parents after reporting that Covid-infected children were falling ill with Kawasaki, a rare but potentially lethal auto-immune disease where the child’s immune system attacks the blood vessels, most famously of the heart. Having previously been told that children were largely safe from Covid, parents became afraid that their children could be the victims of this Kawasaki complication. This information was used to support the continued closure of schools, daycare, summer camps, and group activities of all children in the US.
While the first case clusters were first being reported out of England, the UK’s Kawasaki Disease Foundation recently issued a press release stating that this year there have been fewer, not more, cases of this rare disease, and that only half of the Kawasaki cases tested positive for Covid-19.
The Bottom Line
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe today:
- Avoid crowds, indoors and out
- Under the protection of summer sun and her breezes, the outdoors is your new ‘safe space’
- Enjoy your friends and family outdoors with social distancing
- Let kids be kids, pre-Covid
- Outside of your home, spend your time only in adequately ventilated indoor spaces
- Never you (nor anyone else) touch your face or food without clean hands
- Become a ‘hardened target’ by following my lifestyle and nutrition recommendations
- Continue to protect the elderly and the vulnerable
- For any respiratory symptoms, get tested and treated early
- Wear a mask if you are sick, cannot socially distance, or wish to hide your identity
Michael Hirt, MD