Amy has been kind enough to send us further information following on from her presentation last Wednesday.
I hope that you are all keeping well and that, if you are travelling, you do so without too much stress.
Take care everyone.
As promised, the number for the 24/7 EOC hotline is 0800203033.
Currently, the only way to get tested for Sars-CoV2 infection is to call the hotline, explain symptoms and risk factors (only those who are symptomatic and have either travelled internationally, been in contact with a known COVID-19 infected person, or who have severe symptoms that cannot otherwise be explained are currently being tested), and wait for a lab team to arrive to take a sample.
Things are shifting fast and furious in the COVID world, and so I thought I’d answer some FAQs more broadly.
- The President’s address mentioned chloroquine might work, but that’s untrue, right?
- Not exactly. There IS still talk of chloroquine maybe being an option. There are 10 or more clinical trials testing chloroquine going on right now. As of 12 March, early data says “maybe.” As of right now, there are no approved therapeutics for COVID-19, but hundreds of things being tested, and we’ll have to wait and see what the final word is on all of them. So President Museveni was not wrong when he said: “There is even some talk of Chloroquine working.” One could, accurately, say “there’s some talk of X working” with regards to about 100 different drugs in testing phase right now. The safest and more accurate statement that can be made right now is “There is no currently approved therapeutic for COVID-19, but lots of things are being tested and we hope to have some answers soon.”
- The President also said eat lots of vitamin C. Well?
- Short answer – vitamin C is good for you, and eating fruit or broccoli or such in order to get enough Vitamin C and other essential vitamins in your daily diet as the President recommended is actually great advice on any given day. It will not give you the superpower to avoid getting coronavirus. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and keep distance from people with symptoms to avoid getting coronavirus. Eat a good diet and live your healthiest possible lifestyle to decrease your risk of poor outcome in the event that you still end up with COVID-19 (or any other illness).
- Long answer – There are a dozen or more studies on whether excess vitamin c can prevent common cold, the all pretty much say no, unfortunately. One meta-analysis (they summarized data from a bunch of other places but did not collect any original data), hinted that excess vitamin C might reduce the chances of ultra-athletes or people under extreme physical stress getting the common cold – there was no impact in folks like us. Another study that is often quoted indicated that a bit of extra vitamin C might help to reduce the duration of symptoms of a cold. That might be true, but follow-up studies show very weak evidence of this and there’s lots of caveats. At the end of the day, Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body does not store it and it’s pretty much impossible to overdose (well, if you go really insane with it you might give yourself diarrhea or a stomach ache…). And we do need it in our diet – so it is sound advice to eat fruit or broccoli or get some sources of vitamin C (I think Minister Aceng also said it very well – eat fruit, also eat vegetables, basically be as healthy as you can be). Note that both the President and Minister recommended including health foods in your diet – they did not recommend running out to buy vitamin c pills. If you decide to take a vitamin c supplement, you would want to make sure it’s a REAL supplement from a reliable source and an appropriate dose! BUT – wash your hands and don’t touch your face because it also won’t be your super-prevention, either.
- Extra answer on garlic – garlic fits into the same category when it comes to COVID-19. There are some studies that show different types of benefits to having garlic in your diet. It will not give you the super-power to avoid COVID-19. It MIGHT give you the superpower to effectively do social distancing, as if you eat enough of it you start to smell like garlic!
- Extra extra answer on raw eggs. First, yuck. Second, raw eggs may carry Salmonella bacteria, which can make a person incredibly sick. Cook your eggs.
- WHO has advised people to avoid ibuprofen, right?
- Nope. Below is the for-real statement from WHO. Note that it is yet another ‘eh, we don’t know – there’s no real ‘signal’ yet to base a sound decision on.’ Not as great as knowing all the answers for real and for true, I know. But it is what it is, and we all just need to do our best and keep going to real sources for answers (like all of you who emailed me for a double-check! But don’t even take my word for it, go to www.cdc.gov or www.who.int as they have people updating this stuff all the time!)
- Could ibuprofen worsen disease for people with COVID-19? Does WHO recommend against the use of ibuprofen?
- WHO is aware of concerns on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e., ibuprofen) for the treatment of fever for people with COVID-19. At present, after a rapid review of the literature, WHO is not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic. We are consulting with physicians treating COVID-19 patients and are not aware of reports of any negative effects of ibuprofen, beyond the usual known side effects that limit its use in certain populations.Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen.
For more great information, WHO has a myth-busters section and CDC and WHO websites remain the best sources for accurate information. Just remember, things are changing FAST. Researchers and doctors and others will continue to pump new information into the collective knowledge-bank, just because something is published there DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE. Science doesn’t actually work that way. Folks find something interesting, publish it, other folks try to repeat it and see if they get the same result. If they do, and biology backs it up, then eventually we accept it as ‘truth’ and go forward. It takes time. In the meantime, the press needs their headlines and journalists know that the public really doesn’t have the patience for ‘maybe’. In the end, here’s the truth: WASH your hands, DON’T touch your face, and keep some DISTANCE between you and symptomatic people. If you do get sick, talk to your DOCTOR (and I don’t mean Dr. Google!)
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently …
Amy L. Boore, PhD MPH
Program Director, Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)