The logic of surviving the Coronavirus pandemic – executive summary

The fol­low­ing is a brief sum­ma­ry of our orig­i­nal arti­cle “The log­ic of sur­viv­ing the Coronavirus pan­dem­ic”. The sci­ence-mind­ed may refer to this arti­cle, any­one sim­ply inter­est­ed in how to pro­tect him­self from poten­tial­ly seri­ous con­se­quences of a COVID-19 infec­tion may sim­ply read on.

The goal: to sur­vive your­self and to see the pan­dem­ic end soon, so that the econ­o­my as well as health-enhanc­ing social life can restart as soon as pos­si­ble.

If the risk of dying from the infec­tion is dras­ti­cal­ly reduced, the Coronavirus pan­dem­ic is imme­di­ate­ly reduced to the sta­tus of a nor­mal wave of influen­za; life can return to nor­mal, the econ­o­my can con­tin­ue to run almost nor­mal­ly, multi­bil­lion-dol­lar val­ues are being pre­served.

How does one die from a Coronavirus infec­tion? With rare excep­tions, of pneu­mo­nia. What brings peo­ple into inten­sive care units, over­crowd­ing the lat­ter in a short peri­od of time (we know what we are talk­ing about)? Pneumonia.

What caus­es pneu­mo­nia? In the case of COVID-19, accord­ing to cur­rent evi­dence, it is pre­dom­i­nant­ly caused by aspi­ra­tion (inhala­tion) of pha­ryn­geal mucus con­tain­ing large viral loads. This was dif­fer­ent in the case of the SARS virus of 2003, which pri­mar­i­ly entered the lungs direct­ly as an aerosol and (prob­a­bly for this rea­son, among oth­ers) was con­sid­er­ably more dead­ly than COVID-19.

When is the risk of such aspi­ra­tion great­est? During sleep, for oth­er­wise healthy and for sick peo­ple alike, and the deep­er the sleep, the greater the risk.

Is it impor­tant how much virus the pha­ryn­geal mucus con­tains? Absolutely. The out­come of the immune system’s strug­gle against pathogens is essen­tial­ly always also a ques­tion of quan­ti­ty, in sim­ple terms: how many pathogens hit the body’s defense mech­a­nisms (mucous mem­brane, cil­ia, immune cells)?

Would it be help­ful to sim­ply slow down the course of the infec­tion, even if what can be called an infec­tion were not pre­vent­ed alto­geth­er by what we pro­pose below (and we believe it should be pre­vent­ed in most cas­es)? Absolutely. Consider that symp­toms typ­i­cal­ly start around day 5 of an infec­tion with COVID-19, when the virus pop­u­la­tion in the throat hits its peak. By day 10, the immune sys­tem typ­i­cal­ly has already gained the upper hand – if no sig­nif­i­cant amounts of virus have entered the lungs in the mean­time. So even if we were to only slow down the course of a pos­si­ble infec­tion to the effect that our immune sys­tem has enough time to devel­op its sus­tained response, we may have lost the ini­tial bat­tle but have won the war.

What to do?

Regardless of whether you (already) have symp­toms or not, as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, dis­in­fect your throat reg­u­lar­ly, at least before going to bed, and up to 4 times a day in total, sim­i­lar to the way it has been done for decades in inten­sive care units of hos­pi­tals to pre­vent pneu­mo­nia and also in den­tal prac­tices. Normally only in the evening after brush­ing teeth. According to stud­ies, dis­in­fec­tion once a day has no neg­a­tive influ­ence on the NO-pro­duc­ing oral flo­ra. Additionally dur­ing the day, for exam­ple before you are due to meet peo­ple who are par­tic­u­lar­ly at risk, in order to avoid infect­ing them if you are already infect­ed your­self, which can be the case with­out you expe­ri­enc­ing any sig­nif­i­cant symp­toms. Never more than 4 times on a giv­en day, because of the oth­er­wise expect­ed irri­ta­tion of the mucous mem­brane.

How?

By gar­gling with a solu­tion of hydro­gen per­ox­ide dilut­ed to 1 %. While this may sound haz­ardous to some peo­ple (“isn’t that how you bleach your hair?”), it is com­mon prac­tice and not dan­ger­ous. Just as effec­tive against the virus is >60% alco­hol. Gargle for 60 sec­onds (divis­i­ble into 4 times 15 or 6 times ten if you can­not keep your head inclined back­wards for this long). Do not swal­low the gar­gle solu­tion after­wards, but spit it out (also when using alco­hol, see below). Hydrogen per­ox­ide is avail­able in super­mar­kets and/or phar­ma­cies, so far as it is not already sold out, because it is already rec­om­mend­ed and bought to a large extent for dis­in­fect­ing sur­faces in house­holds (it is still avail­able at least from online shops). The con­cen­tra­tion on offer is typ­i­cal­ly 3 % or 6 %, so you have to add either two or five parts of water to one part of the pur­chased solu­tion. Gargle with a small amount of the one per­cent solu­tion of 10 to 20 ml.

(Hydrogen per­ox­ide destroys pro­teins. These pro­teins are also found on the sur­face of body cells, but the cells keep rebuild­ing these pro­teins. A virus does not live and can­not rebuild any­thing. Once its pro­tein shell is destroyed, it is inef­fec­tive).

The virus is pri­mar­i­ly trans­mit­ted through the air in small droplets by speak­ing and cough­ing, even by infect­ed per­sons who are still symp­tom-free. So any­one who reg­u­lar­ly reduces his or her (pos­si­ble) virus pop­u­la­tion in the throat down to small rem­nants by gar­gling with hydro­gen per­ox­ide min­i­mizes the risk of get­ting pneu­mo­nia and at the same time the risk of infect­ing oth­ers. The great­est risk of infec­tion is among house­hold mem­bers and in shared means of trans­port.

Because the risk of aspi­ra­tion of pha­ryn­geal mucus dur­ing the night is increased by par­tic­u­lar­ly deep sleep, for exam­ple due to tak­ing sleep­ing pills or drink­ing alco­hol, both of the lat­ter should be avoid­ed dur­ing the Coronavirus cri­sis.

In addi­tion, a zinc defi­cien­cy should be avoid­ed in any case, since such a defi­cien­cy shifts the gen­er­al state of the immune sys­tem in a dan­ger­ous direc­tion (Th2) in the case of a Coronavirus infec­tion.

The more peo­ple fol­low the above advice, which I here­by per­mit myself to give as a doc­tor and med­ical sci­en­tist, and which of course I myself and my fam­i­ly also fol­low, the few­er peo­ple will die and the soon­er and with less dam­age done we will all have sur­vived this cri­sis.

It is not that we are help­less in the face of this dan­ger and can do noth­ing but shut our­selves away. We can become active and defend our­selves. We are humans.

We here­by explic­it­ly autho­rize all English lan­guage web­sites to repub­lish this arti­cle in its entire­ty, pro­vid­ed that the text men­tions the source and links to this page.

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A group of researchers from the UK (Cardiff and Cambridge), the US (Denver, Colorado), Spain (Barcelona), and Canada (Ottawa) has now picked up the idea we have put forward almost exactly two months ago for preventive throat disinfection with virucidal agents that are known to be effective against coronaviruses and safe to use in the throat. The WHO should now even more seriously consider including it in its recommendations.
COVID-19, many believe, has thrown the world into unprecedented disaster, and to those believing so, the future looks bleak at best. But what if the opposite will prove to be true? Speculation is a noble occupation, futures studies an academic discipline, so we hazard a brief preview of the enormous economic and societal gains for which the COVID-19 crisis may have just sown the seeds.

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A group of researchers from the UK (Cardiff and Cambridge), the US (Denver, Colorado), Spain (Barcelona), and Canada (Ottawa) has now picked up the idea we have put forward almost exactly two months ago for preventive throat disinfection with virucidal agents that are known to be effective against coronaviruses and safe to use in the throat. The WHO should now even more seriously consider including it in its recommendations.
COVID-19, many believe, has thrown the world into unprecedented disaster, and to those believing so, the future looks bleak at best. But what if the opposite will prove to be true? Speculation is a noble occupation, futures studies an academic discipline, so we hazard a brief preview of the enormous economic and societal gains for which the COVID-19 crisis may have just sown the seeds.
While in recent weeks we have been focused on establishing and comprehending as deeply as possible the immunological “big picture” in viral epidemics from so far only partly interconnected evidence in the specialist literature, in order to derive actionable recommendations, we briefly summarize what has emerged in terms of feedback as well as additional insight with regard to our first article since it appeared.
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