A few devotees have been contacting me asking about what to do if we become infected by this disease, since I have been battling what it seems to be a coronavirus infection for the past few days. I decided to write this post sharing what I researched about it. I hope it may help devotees that find themselves in the same situation.
The coronavirus is spreading and appears there's not a way to stop it. Quarantines all over the world are slowing down the spread of the virus, but still we have more cases every day. Epidemiologists already work with the possibility that the virus will stop spreading quickly only when we develop a herd immunity against it, which means, when most people become infected and develop resistance against it. It seems like a plausible scenario, that this virus will just stay with us, with new surges occurring every year, much like the swine-flu virus, that is still with us, every year infecting new people.
Throughout the world, a number of devotees have already been infected. A few became seriously sick and there were even two deaths. Here I share the bits of information I was able to collect about the virus and what we can do to avoid becoming seriously sick if infected. These are the tips that helped me to avoid the worst symptoms of this disease, and I hope can help you in case you also become infected by it.
First point is that there is no reason to panic. From all the people that become infected, about half don't show any noticeable symptoms. From the other half, about 80% to 90% show only moderate flu-like symptoms (sore throat, lost sense of smell, headache, pains in the body, pain in the joints and in the eyes, moderate fever, mental confusion, tiredness, dry cough, nausea, etc.). Only a minority, 5 to 10% show serious symptoms (a type of severe pneumonia that may require hospitalization).
This is a new virus, therefore nobody have immunity against it. There is no treatment and no vaccine, therefore the only thing to protect us (apart from Krsna) is our own immunologic systems. Anyone that is promising some miraculous prevention or cure is just lying or under illusion.
The most doctors can do is to help people with the most severe symptoms to breath, giving them oxygen or putting them on ventilators. In most hospitals, they are not even accepting people that show only light symptoms, reserving their resources to the most serious cases. As long you are being able to breath, they will just send you home
That's why the statistics appear to be so scary. In most countries there are no sufficient tests available, and thus only the most severe cases are being tested and included in the official statistics. The numbers may show a 10% death rate, for example (like in Italy) but that’s because numbers exclude the other 90%, cases of people that have only light symptoms and are thus sent home without being tested.
Nobody knows exactly why only some people become seriously sick. There is however three things that became a consensus amongst doctors based on statistical studies:
1- Older people (especially over 70) have a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill and dying
2- People with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity or high blood sugar are also at risk, even if younger.
3- Patients taking chemotherapy, immunosuppressant drugs, or with other conditions that result in weakened immune systems seems to be the most vulnerable.
Therefore, the first priority should be to protect our elders. Once sick, they are under a great risk of losing their lives. The best approach for devotees in their 70's or 80's is to just stay at home and avoid personal contact with potentially infected people until a vaccine is available.
The second priority should be to strengthen our immune system, so we have a better chance of avoiding the most serious symptoms if we do become infected. Here there are a few tips to strengthen your immune system:
1- Avoid sugar, junk food, soft-drinks, commercial juices, and simple carbohydrates in general (this is the main factor that leads to high-blood sugar, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and other risk factors. This seem to be the main factor in the cases of young people that become seriously ill)
2- Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and high-quality food (this provides nutrients to strengthen our immune system, which will help to fight any disease)
3- If you are overweight, try to lose a few kilos (there is an article I wrote about this: https://www.gettingthemercy.com/post/health-how-to-lose-weight-in-a-sustainable-way-without-suffering-1 )
4- Lemon, ginger and turmeric can also help, but they are NOT going to prevent you from becoming sick.
5- Countries that are having the highest percentage of serious cases (like Italy, Spain, the US and UK) have something in common: they are all from the northern hemisphere and thus coming from the winter. In comparison, countries from the south hemisphere, where the summer is just ending (like Brazil) are showing relatively few deaths despite also having a great number of cases. This suggests that Vitamin D levels may also be an important factor (which is not surprising, since vitamin D is such an essential part of our immune system). Fortunately, vitamin D is easy to supplement, since it's available in tablets. A single tablet of 5000 IU per day should solve the problem. Prefer supplements that combine Vitamin D and K2.
6- Magnesium and zinc are also essential for the immune system. It's recommendable to ingest 450mg of magnesium and 30mg of zinc per day as a precaution. This equals three tables of a ZMA supplement. Vitamin C can also help, but as a secondary measure.
7- Intermittent fasting, combined with a healthy diet is a good way to improve our immune system, preparing for an eventual infection. You can find plenty of material on the internet about it. You can try a regime of 16/8 (eat for 8 hours and fast for 16), which requires only small modifications on one's routine, but gives good benefits. This is also a good way to lose weight.
8- If possible, take a sunbath for a couple of hours every day. This helps to make vitamin D and to strengthen the immune system in general. Do some light exercise.
If you think you are already sick:
1- Quarantine yourself! This is a very infectious disease. Even trained doctors taking all precautions are becoming infected when treating their patients. Avoid all contact with other devotees to avoid spreading it in the community.
2- Rest! This coronavirus seems to be an opportunist virus that thrives when we are tired or stressed. This explains why there is such a high mortality rate amongst doctors: many become infected and continue working in stressful conditions, which leads to very serious cases. The classical pattern seems to be that one "becomes better before becoming worse". In other words: one has light symptoms in the first few days, becomes better for a short time and then the condition becomes worse. If one just rests continuously for the recommended period of 14 days, one has a much lower chance of developing the most serious symptoms.
3- Continue taking the supplements of vitamin D, magnesium and zinc. Some preliminary studies point that 2 to 4 grams of vitamin C per day can also help.
4- Stop completely with any kind of junk food and avoid all refined carbohydrates (as mentioned, these foods elevate the blood sugar, which seems to be the main risk factor on this disease). Increase the intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and other high-quality foods. Prefer soups and preparations that are easy to digest. Lemon, ginger and turmeric can also help, but as a secondary measure.
5- Don't fast. Keep a regular diet, eating three meals a day at regular times. Don’t overeat. Fasting can help treat many diseases (especially bacterial infections), but it's a consensus among specialists that it is not positive in the case of the coronavirus. The main priority should be to provide the body with the necessary nutrients.
6- Don’t exercise! Save all your energy to battle the disease. At most, do some light tasks or a very light walk. Even if the symptoms disappeared for a few days, continue resting until you complete the 14 days. As mentioned, in this disease one usually has two waves of symptoms. When we feel better is usually because the second wave is coming.
This is what I have to share. Hope it can help.
Caitanya Chandra dasa