I’ve had a ton of questions and I’m sure you have as well. I’m writing biweekly (possibly more) on aspects of this pandemic that you might not see elsewhere. Topics that range from the science of a pandemic, keeping your health, and to the actualities of this new reality—bringing in the medical, spiritual, and emotional side of dealing with a world pandemic.
I promise the posts won’t be all doom and gloom (just turn on the news for that), but I’ll fill my musings with information, occasional humor and what we need most of all right now, hope. Also, I will discuss practical aspects of fighting for your health and that of your family. What supplements should I take? Do I really need to stay away from ibuprofen? What the heck is a virus, anyway? Is this pandemic real?
So, let’s dive in:
My wife and I went to bed last night, turned to each other, and said, “This can’t be real.” It’s like we’ve gotten stuck in a nightmare or unfortunate episode of The Twilight Zone—this fear-inducing, toilet paper hoarding, isolation of COVID-19. As I drifted off to sleep (something else this pandemic has tried stealing from me) I decided I stood in a unique position as a physician, writer and someone connected to the local, national, and world medical community. I’ve spoken directly with medical personnel on the front line and scoured medical data to grasp an understanding.
I have had a hard time wrapping my mind around this whole thing, and I’m sure there are many others feeling the same. So, first, let’s start with an important topic, Virology 101 and some terminology. It’s so essential you understand what a virus is and why washing your hands with soap and warm water is important.
SARS-CoV-2 virus causes the disease Covid-19. Yes, that’s correct, we are actually fighting a novel SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus that belongs to the broad family of viruses known as coronaviruses.
But to understand viruses, you first must understand the basics of genetics. When is the last time you’ve thought about the human genome? Remember, all that we are—what we look like, how our bodies function—is coded in our DNA. DNA is the master code for every system in our body. Along the strands of DNA are short sections of information we call genes.
In every one of our 40,000,000,000,000 (forty trillion) cells, there is a nucleus packed with strands of DNA that are over six feet long. Incredibly, if you put the DNA in all your cells end-to-end, they would wrap around our solar system twice. Amazing, I know!
This DNA is a microscopic molecule that is tightly twisted and folded inside the nuclei. We all carry ninety-two strands in each cell. It’s wild, but the information on the DNA is coded by only four building-block molecules called nucleotides: adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. Yes, only four—repeated over and over and over in different order.
A series of these nucleotides along the strand of DNA creates the gene or code for the body to make proteins. To accomplish this, the cell produces a mirror image of that small section of the DNA called RNA. The RNA is then used as the language in the cell to make proteins. In turn, these proteins create our lives and run each of our delicate systems. (I’m obviously simplifying here).
So, what does this have to do with a virus? A virus is NOT a living organism. It’s not a cell, like bacteria, but simply consists of some protein, often a protective fat layer, and a small amount of genetic material in the form of DNA or RNA. Each virus is unique and can mutate (which the SARS-CoV-2 appears to have already done) and is why producing vaccines is a challenge. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is comprised of four structural proteins, with one of these proteins holding a single strand of RNA.
Think of these viruses as rogue invaders. They enter the body through our mucous membranes (eyes, nose, and throat). The virus cannot go through healthy skin. The virus attaches to our cells and introduces its genetic material, RNA into the cell. These viruses act like a message delivered in an envelope that tells a cell what to do. (For those that are interested the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to gain entry via ACE2 receptors…and why there is much discussion concerning patients on ACE inhibitors, medication for high blood pressure). The virus highjacks our cell’s own protein manufacturing system, forcing it to produce thousands of more viruses. This overproduction of the virus eventually causes death of the host cell.
1) Yes, unfortunately the pandemic is very real, and we ALL need to take this very seriously. Unlike the flu (Influenza virus), NO ONE has immunity and with no vaccine currently available and a 5-20% higher mortality rate (depending on what study you read) than the flu, this is a true global crisis. (Perhaps I’ll eventually write a post on the realities of the front line…it’s as bad as the news reports, if not worse.)
2) If you’re like me, you might look out the window, and think, “Perhaps the worst has passed, and I don’t need to be as careful.” I will share some reports soon on the projected timelines of COVID-19 peaks for different areas of the country. THIS IS NOT OVER. Please continue to do everything you can to keep you and your family safe.
3) Remember how a layer of fat protects the virus? That’s why soap, detergent, and hand sanitizer with over 65% alcohol kills the virus. (Cue the Dawn commercial of detergents cutting through grease) YES…WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN with soap and warm water.
Practical Tip of the Day:
I am doing everything I can to bolster my immune system. I have personally increased my Vitamin D, Vitamin C, CoQ10, and take a good Probiotic for gut health.*** I work on getting plenty of good sleep and take walks alone in the mountains around the house…stopping and enjoying some quiet meditation time to reduce stress. And lastly, and not always succeeding, I try to eat a good healthy diet. I thought I was becoming the expert resident chef…however, my wife has banned me from the kitchen.
***This is not meant as medical advice so please check with your doctor before using any supplements
This is a great way to stay connected during a difficult time. Be safe and blessing to you and your family!
Hey Lynda…so good to hear from you! Julie and I hope you are healthy and safe! What a crazy time. Please let me know if there are any particular topics you want me to dive into.
Thanks Tim very useful information. I look forward to your next segment.
God bless, Jeff Kral
Hey, Jeff….blessing to you and Paula and your family. I hope you are all well. Let me know if there are any topics that we need to research for you all!
This is great info! Thank you!
Thanks, Lisa. Please let me know if you have any topics that you really want me to dive into! Hope you guys are healthy and safe!
I was so glad to see information posted from a source that I trust. Thank you for your insight, Tim. Praying for our family and yours. Be well.
Hey Anne…thank you!I hope you all are healthy and safe!
Tim , thank you for this information. So do you think we should ware masks when we go into stores? I totally believe that the Lord is in control of this. But at the same time He wants us to use wisdom.
This is such a great question. I had to get some supplies they other day and I literally found myself holding my breath through the store!
Masks have been a great matter of debate. The problem is…unless you’re a surgeon and used to wearing them, they make people touch their face WAY more…exactly what you don’t want to be doing. The N95 mask offers the best protection (filtering out 95% of small particles). Remember the virus is microscopic 100-200 nanometers (You can only see it with an electron microscope). The CDC has a statement that they do not recommend the general public wear the mask. HOWEVER…if you do show symptoms of COVID-19 you should wear a mask to protect others around you.I’ll write more about all this in the blog.
Thanks for this, Dr Tim! I look forward to your future posts! This ain’t pretty, but we’ll make it through!
Yes….not pretty at all. I’m posting again tonight as I have an important update. Please stay safe and healthy.
Lots of love to you guys.
Love the info!! Thank you!!
Thank you, Tomi! Julie and I send our love!
Thank you for this information! I am a bone marrow transplant survivor of 8 months. I have been and will continue to be, along with my family, very diligent and comply with all that we need to do to survive this pandemic. Blessings to you!
Oh my gosh, Darlene, Bless you in your healing…and yes, please stay extra safe!!
I am interested in reading your information after this 1st preview. Thank you
Thanks Donna…please stay safe and be well. I’m posting again tonight…Too much important information!!
Thank you Tim
Be safe and stay well, Cindy Lou…Julie and I send our love!
Thank you Tim
Thank you for your information and not fear-mongering. I have a question, do we need to wipe down everything we purchase from the store with a bleach wipe?
Hey, Maura…thank you for the great question. Yes…please wipe down everything from the store. AND use gloves…not just to protect from the virus, but I worry about all the chemicals we are putting on the biggest organ of our body…our skin:) The research is pretty clear that this nasty virus can exist (opps…I almost made the mistake of saying lives—I need to read my own blog…it’s not a living organism) on surfaces for a number of days depending on what it is. Because this is such a bad virus, please be safe than sorry. Helath and safety to you, my friend!!