COVID-19 What do we really know? Part two

Right, while Mrs S is waiting for her conference call with the rest of our globally extended family, I am going to proceed with my series of blog posts about SARS/COV-2 and what is understood about it. Now we’ve looked at the origins of this infection, but what about the mortality? There are a lot of hysterical stories about it, but how bad is this infection, really? Who is most likely to die and how does it stack up against other infections and accidents?

Okay, this is a bit of a high dive into available data and not a direct comparison, because most of those numbers simply aren’t available for 2020. There’s influenza mortality figures and overall death tallies for comparison, so, spoiler alert; this will not be a direct comparison because none will be available until all the data is in.

Now the current global death tally for all SARS/COV-2 associated mortality, is at the time of writing in early September 2020, well under a million. A quick explanation of ‘associated mortality’ is pertinent at this point. Essentially this is the number of deaths of people found to have died from a coronavirus, and those tested positive post mortem, regardless of the cause of death, for fragments of a coronavirus. Not specifically for SARS/COV-2 (COVID-19).

Unfortunately this is because a number of the testing regimens in use will interpret any type of coronavirus as SARS/COV-2 with a high proportion of high positives and false negatives due to the viral loading methodology which can concentrate any sample between 30 to 40 times.

So the average deaths from influenza type infections, estimated by the WHO at between 250 and 500,000 and this peer reviewed paper here are starting to look a bit samey, especially as the attribution criteria lobs all causes of deaths with those who have actually directly died from SARS/COV-2 in with those who tested positive using the flawed testing data. As well as the widely repeated rumour that some health authorities have been over egging the SARS/COV-2 pudding more than a little. Died from a heart attack but tested positive for a coronavirus? SARS/COV-2. Run over by a bus while suffering from a mild sniffle? Likewise. This is no way to get an accurate picture of the pandemic, which is now so widespread it can be said to be endemic, like all the other coughs, colds and sniffles out there.

Notwithstanding, the deaths actually caused by SARS/COV-2 are real, but for the greater bulk of the population the risk is minimal, especially for those who have the good fortune to have adopted a suburban lifestyle with good personal hygiene and plenty of personal space. Likewise for those under the age of 65. For those over 40, the risk is higher than for thirty-somethings, whilst for those under thirty, the risk is almost infinitesimal.

Some negative variance has been found for those with darker skins due to vitamin D deficiency in high latitudes, also for those living in close quarters with a lot of others and poor personal hygiene. The initial high figures from China for example were likely due to cramped living conditions and less than salubrious living conditions. Having seen a number of Chinese social media posts, I have formed the opinion that the living conditions of the average Chinese worker are less than ideal. Although this will hold true for any population in similar straits.

The same goes for European care home deaths where people are often closeted far too close together. Having seen the inside of many of these facilities, both in the UK and Canada, often with pervasive odours of unstable bowels and bladders, I’m not surprised at the scythe that runs through them every cold and flu season. Care homes and similar accommodation are for seasonal respiratory infections, a target rich environment. They are full of people already too sick with age. Similarly for health care workers who have to share that environment.

From the available figures, those most at risk are what is called ‘immunocompromised‘. Specifically those with a serious chronic health problem like type 2 Diabetes, a chronic respiratory condition or are suffering from a severely depressed immune system like with HIV infections or Leukaemia. Those in general good health are unlikely to be overly affected. At least this is what the data tells us.

For myself, my major risk factors are currently restriction related stress and lack of sleep, so I take the precaution of keeping my system topped up with Vitamins C, D every other day and a once weekly zinc and magnesium (Zinc for anti-viral, Magnesium for absorption) supplement. This is only sensible. On the whole I’m relying on my GP’s longstanding advice for moderate exercise (at least a 2-3km stroll daily) in the fresh air and a balanced diet including fresh fruit where available. The old ‘apple a day’ strategy. Which seems to work.

As for vitamin D, see Dr Campbell’s video below;

Nice to see the science is keeping up with my old GP’s advice.

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