I have the weekly update, and I’ll also talk about a promising new treatment regimen and a surprising paper about children and COVID.
Update: Unfortunately, the US is experiencing a 3rd wave. This is driven by new confirmed cases in the Northern states, likely because colder weather is driving people indoors. I traveled to Anchorage and Minneapolis in the last few weeks, and I will tell you first hand that eating outside at a restaurant is not an option in those places, but the restaurants have lots of people in them. They’re not full, mind you, they are following the current rules, but lots of people are indoors without masks on. I’ve also been in plenty of airports, in “red” and “blue” states, in which people are filling the restaurants in between flights, with seemingly no regard to the virus. No, I can’t tell you for certain that people are being infected in restaurants, but this is consistent with the idea that indoor activity is driving the increase in new cases. Several European countries are also experiencing 2nd or 3rd waves at this time.
California has had a flat but persistent new case load for the past several weeks, but new cases are starting to increase here too. This is likely most driven by new cases in LA County (18k), which has by far the most confirmed cases in California (308,000), and indeed has almost twice as many confirmed cases as the next highest county, Cook County, the home of Chicago (185,000). Yes, counties in Northern California are experiencing the big upticks in cases right now, but the population and actual case numbers of these counties is so low that they cannot drive the increase in California. Incidentally, Cook County currently has the most confirmed new cases of any US county at 24,000.
San Diego County continues to have a stable but persistent new case load of about 300 new confirmed cases per day. There may be just a hint of 3rd wave starting in San Diego County right now.
Air Travel: When I travel by air, I pretty much never take off my mask on the plane. On layovers, I grab lunch to go at restaurant or convenience store, then go find an isolated spot to eat it.
Delta and Alaska are currently keeping middle seats open. United and American are not. The airlines claim that the air on the plane is filtered by industrial grade HEPA filters every 4 minutes. A pilot friend tells me that this is true. The intake vents are on the floor, and output vents are in the ceiling, like your personal vent, so air is constantly moving to the floor during the flight. If all this is true, then a commercial airplane is a relatively safe place to be!
New Treatment: Doctors in India have developed a treatment combination that has shown great success. Ivermectin is a drug that is commonly used for parasite infections, but is now being used for COVID. It is being used in combination with Doxycycline, Zinc, and Vitamin D. In a study, 93% of confirmed patients do not move on to severe disease while using this regimen, as compared to 58% who developed severe symptoms in the control group.
I’ve said before that Vitamin D has protective effect against the virus, so consider supplementing daily with Vitamin D, or getting out in the sun 30 minutes a day. This is especially important if you have darker skin. Also, supplement with Zinc and Vitamin C.
Less severe symptoms in households with small children: A pre-published study from Scotland claims that adults in households with small children get less severe symptoms if infected than those without small children! This is a counter intuitive result of course. We have known for some time that a low viral load on exposure can lead to less severe symptoms. Also, it appears that most infected children carry a low SARS-2 viral load. This paper puts these pieces together. It suggests that adults with infected children are getting exposed to a lower viral load and having less severe symptoms that adults getting exposed to a higher viral load. In fact, the paper suggests that the more children a household has, the less likely adults are to have severe symptoms!
Don’t fear, but be smart!