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Covid Advice #6 (05/17/2020):
Living Active, Happy Lives with
Robust Self-Protection

- from Dr. Dennis Fong -

Covid Will be With Us for a While

We'll have to learn to live active, happy, productive and enjoyable lives with Covid, because, unlike what I and everyone else had been hoping for, it's here to stay for a while, at least another year.

It might stay longer. A vaccine may come out at the end of this year and get distributed rapidly, but if the flu vaccine is any lesson, it may take some time to get safe and effective.

And there's still no treatment. For those really sick our treatment is just to keep them alive until they fight off the virus themselves.

Practice Robust Self-Protection

So to live normal and enjoyable lives, and get the economy going again, we need to get used to practicing robust self-defense. Make up your own Covid self-defense routines and practice them regularly, so that they become automatic second nature habits and you don't get all tense when you go about your daily life.

That way, you are not only safe from Covid, but also you won't need to live gripped by fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety will make your immunity go down, and then you can catch Covid and even worse, get a serious case of it, much more easily. Some might think that fear and anxiety might make a person better at being aware of contamination and correcting it immediately to prevent himself spreading it all over. Quite the contrary. It's making up and practicing your own robust self-defense routines that enable awareness of potential contamination and immediate disinfection after contamination; fear and anxiety only slows the senses and dulls the mind.

For some good ideas on robust self-defense routines I suggest that you read my Covid Advice of April 5 (#1), 6 (#2), 15 (#3), 29 (#4) and May 4 (#5). While some Covid advice out there may be heavy on theory and light on being practical, mine are all practical. What's more, my Covid advice is based not only on study of the medical evidence, but also on a high awareness of contamination from my going to isolation wards and ICU's to care for my patients all these years, and from my above average amount of operation room experience for a general doctor, having assisted in major surgeries. Adapt the principles in my advice to your lfie style and your preferences, fine-tune your routines so they are just right for you.

Don't Get Covid; Don't Try to Get "Herd Immunity"

Now some people are saying, "I am not afraid of getting Covid; I am healthy and chances are nothing bad is going to happen to me. In fact, it might be a good thing; I will get what they call herd immunity." Well, I would advise you don't try to get "herd immunity."

First of all, it's a dangerous gamble, because you just might become part of that small percentage of the "herd" that gets "culled" by the virus. Hospital data is not that encouraging: fully 38% of New York Covid admissions are younger than 55.

Second, who knows what kind of lasting damage a virus that turns lungs all white on x-ray causes in survivors?

Third, "herd immunity" is most likely an illusion. Nobody knows how fast Covid can mutate, especially when there's lots of it multiplying, which there will be with "herd immunity". We know Covid has already mutated, so it could be like the flu, which mutates so much every year that "herd immunity" is meaningless. Maybe Covid will mutate even faster than the flu. At any rate, Covid is a single strand RNA virus, and that's the type that mutates the fastest -- the flu is one.

Fourth, when you have Covid, especially if you are asymptomatic, you can spread it to others. Wearing a mask, especially one of those cloth ones, is not going to protect everyone else from you, and your hands will spread the virus with everything you touch. Plus, the other members of your household will get it and they might all silently spread it to others. The chance of dying from prostate cancer, for diagnosed cases, is only 1.8%. The real death rate is way lower, since there are lots and lots of harmless prostate cancer that never get diagnosed, but would you like prostate cancer for yourself? Or if it could be spread, would you spread prostate cancer to your family and friends, especially the elderly ones, and to others even if they were only strangers?

Let others get "herd immunity"; as for my patients, I suggest robust self defense and waiting for vaccines and treatments. They'll get here.

Yes, Revive the Economy, but Use Robust Self-Protection

I agree with reviving the economy, but if a lot of people are going to get sick and many eventually die, as with "herd immunity", then even if they are the "old and weak", that expense is going to drag down the economy. It might make insurance really expensive, for starters. Far worse, the economy won't like what might start happening to its work force. Without robust self-defense, even the young and the strong might get sick and start dying in fairly big numbers. For perspective, even if 95% of the 87,000 total Covid deaths thus far are the old and weak, that still leaves 5% or 4,400 young and strong dead so far, and that is already many more than the 2,996 who died in 9-11. But it's not going to be 5% -- as I said above, in New York the cases under 55 and serious enough to be hospitalized have been 38%, and under 55 is work force age! Take prostate cancer again for example: though the death rate is very low, because there are so many cases prostate cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in US males. So a lot of the economy's work force may get sick and even die, then how will the economy carry on?

We've got to do our part to revive the economy with robust self-defense. By not becoming infected ourselves, we won't add to the disaster both economic and humanitarian that I fear "herd immunity" will be if adopted by very many people.

So live happily and help revive the economy, with your own robust, habitual Covid self-defense routines. Stay healthy!

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