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.
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.
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