By Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
I am sure my story is not unique. I know on a daily basis you receive from friends and families updates on the COVID 19 virus, offering advice and health tips. Many links are from reliable sources such as the CDC or renowned Universities. However, there are plenty of quotes from sources that may or may not be scientific base. A dear friend sent the clinical information to me 2 weeks ago. Not knowing whether the information is correct or not, I proceeded to ask a colleague who specialized in pulmonology and is doing a fellowship on infection disease. This exercise of “verifying the facts and myths” proved to be an interesting experience. Therefore even the information is not from the most authoritative source, I thought the questions raised are pretty universal. Hence, I decided to share our conversation with you in two parts. This week we will focus on the information that is deemed credible. Next week, I will present the myths that you need to be aware of.
Part I: These statements are deemed credible.
* The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code, (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.
-> This is true.
* Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
-> This is true as well.
* The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam).
-> This is also true. Soap or alcohol hand sanitizer easily disrupts the membrane of this virus. You don’t need bleach.
By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
* HEAT melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 77 degrees Fahrenheit for washing hands, clothes and everything. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful. -> I agree warm water is better for handwashing, but I am not sure if that is because heat melts lipid, since one is already using soap anyway. I would advise AGAINST handwashing with warm water without soap. As for laundry, I don’t think warm water results in any additional benefit in reducing this virus (it may be beneficial for reducing other viruses/bacteria).
* Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.
* Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.
-> This is true. So if you don’t have alcohol, you can use bleach, but bleach does not offer additional benefit over alcohol.
* NO BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTIC SERVES. The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; antibodies cannot kill what is not alive.
-> BOLD letter is true. Antibiotics do not kill the virus. But antibodies do, and preliminary study showed effectiveness of antibodies from people recovered from COVID-19.
* The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.
-> True, but it can be carried on healthy skin.
* The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be.
->True. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less concentration of the virus.
* Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.
->This is true of any of hand hygiene practices.
I hope you have fun going through these statements. But I do offer my final words: the COVID 19 is a novel virus; we do not have enough information to be 100% certain of the news or information. So take this as an exercise to learn a little more about the virus and bear in mind the information is not from hard core scientific research. The response is an opinion of a trained respiratory physician.
Next week, we will explore what is floating around that might not be true.
Your homework assignment from the Care Ministry this week: Have you come across information that you need to “filter out?” Go and do the verification, it is fun!
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