TESTING-COVID-19 FYI #5
TESTING AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT:
I woke up this morning, thinking, what the heck!! Stupid, stupid virus! (Well, the thought was much more colorful in my mind.) But I want to discuss today the issue of testing and why it’s so important. Please do not reply with any political statements as there is plenty of blame to go around, but I want to give you a clear understanding of why this virus is hitting some counties so ferociously and other countries have been able to truly flatten the curve and are back hustling and bustling once again.
I am showing this chart from Johns Hopkins University. I wish I could find an updated one, but it will do for this discussion.
So why have countries like South Korea and Japan been able to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus so effectively? The bottom line is they were PREPARED. These countries have been hit hard by similar viruses—SARS (a different version) in 2003 and MERS 2015. Because of this, they had their protocols and, perhaps most importantly, their testing capabilities available light years ahead of other countries. Once the scientists identified the virus, they could quickly develop the exact tests through the research institutions and have the pharmaceutical companies rapidly produce them.
Testing was the key. Testing not only leads to early detection; it allows the government to isolate and treat those that are infected quickly. Once the government identified the areas of the city/county, they quarantined the people, and then disinfected that area. (You’ve seen the armies of hazmat workers using fumigation machines to kill the virus.)
I also communicated with a friend in South Korea yesterday, and this is what he told me:
“No lockdowns at all. Stores are fully stocked, and restaurants and bars are open, but half full. There has been massive FREE testing and real-time updates via text-messages of all new infections in my neighborhood. This includes the routes the infected person took and the places they visited. There is a high level of public consciousness about distancing and hand sanitation. This has made control and disinfection very effective.”
Obviously, this works, but we as Americans need to understand the price: South Korea and other countries track its citizens via surveillance cameras, and personal cellphones and credit card transactions, so if an infection is found, they know exactly where that person is and where they’ve been.
Again, from my friend in Korea:
“I got a text from the government every time they found a newly infected person in the district I live, along with a list of places they had been. But the difference in Korea’s stats is staggering: 74 new infections a few days ago and 120 yesterday…mostly from people returning home from other parts of the world.”
TESTING: So you know, there are two types of tests: one tests for the virus itself and one tests the patient’s antibody levels for the virus.
Currently, the US has only the tests that look for the virus, and what I hear from the front lines, it’s not very accurate. Somewhere around 25-40% false negatives. The medical community is saying, even with a negative test, it is COVID-19 until proven otherwise. So, the bottom line with the current test: you could test negative and STILL have it. This is why our best offense is the defense of social distancing.
When someone is exposed to SARS-CoV-2, our bodies form specific antibodies for that virus. The lab can measure those antibodies in the blood. And there is the hope on the horizon…within the next few days, an antibody test is rolling out. When the US tests everyone, those who have had it and have recovered can go back to work, hugging their kids and grandkids, and thanking God. I look forward to when we can wear the T-shirt: I SURVIVED COVID-19!
1) Preparedness and testing have been the key to success in beating this virus…but it comes at a cost to our privacy.
2) We hope upon hope for the antibody testing. This WILL be a national game-changer.
Practical Tip of the Day:
From the front line: doctors recommend that if you get COVID-19 and have increased respiratory symptoms that you spend some time on your belly (prone). This seems to help remove the fluids in your lungs. Again, I cannot stress this enough—monitor your O2 saturation closely with a pulse oximeter so you will know immediately if you need to go to the hospital.
Stay safe and healthy…With love, Timothy