The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV, is the top story of 2020 with new information being released almost hourly. This information overload can make it increasingly difficult to know what is still relevant or even true. The following article will help clear up a few things so that you are better equipped to dealing with this pandemic.
1. Which Medications are Safe?
There has been a lot of controversy regarding medications and if they can make you vulnerable to COVID-19. Panic, hysteria and ignorance has caused celebrities, influencers and politicians to spread misinformation about medications. As of March 20 2020, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society published their recommendations regarding a number of therapies to clear up some of the confusion .
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are safe to use. There is no clinical evidence supporting the claims that NSAIDs such as Advil (ibuprofen) can worsen COVID-19 symptoms. However, patients with high blood pressure or heart failure should avoid NSAIDs because they can worsen those conditions. For patients with heart issues, it’s recommended to use Tylenol (acetaminophen) to manage fever and pain.
- Blood pressure medications, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB) are safe to continue even if infected with COVID-19. Do not stop taking any of your blood pressure medications unless advised by your physician!
- Patients taking low dose Aspirin for a valid reason should continue. Aspirin does not increase the chance of getting COVID-19 or making the infection worse.
2. COVID-19 survival on surfaces
It is important to understand how long the virus can survive on different surfaces because this will influence how diligent you sanitize your environment. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed COVID-19 and provided valuable information on this topic.
COVID-19 survival times on different surfaces:
- 72 hours on plastic
- 48 hours on stainless steel
- less than 24 hours on cardboard
- less than 8 hours on copper
- 3 hours or more in the air
Ensuring regular sanitization of plastic and steel items is important to reduce the spread of this virus.
3. Hand Sanitizer Essentials
It’s important to use hand sanitizers that effectively kill germs. Unfortunately, there are companies that make sanitizers that are ineffective which can put you in danger of getting sick. The article “Evaluation of the efficiency of Non alcoholic-Hand Gel Sanitizers products as an antibacterial” found that many non-alcoholic sanitizers do not kill bacteria even though some of them were labelled to kill 99% of germs. Instead, look for an alcohol-based sanitizer which generally contain isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. Make sure the sanitizer contains at least 60% to 95% concentration of the alcohol-base to ensure it is effective at killing germs.
Regularly washing hands can cause dry, cracked and bleeding skin. Broken skin may allow infectious agents to enter your body more easily and theoretically make your more at risk of getting COVID-19. Make sure to moisturize regularly so that your skin can be an effective barrier against pathogens.
4.Compare Influenza vs COVID-19
Briefly summarized, both viruses cause respiratory illness. The symptom profiles are similar; they both cause fever, cough and muscle aches. Influenza and COVID-19 are spread by droplets coming from both the nose and mouth. The viruses spread the infection largely through contact on surfaces. Influenza and COVID-19 do not spread long distances through the air like measles.
There is misinformation regarding children being a significant factor in COVID-19 transmission. This may be true for the influenza virus but not for COVID-19. Household transmission studies in China indicate that it is children who are infected from adults, not the other way around.
Interestingly, COVID-19 is less efficient compared to influenza at transmitting from one person to another. WHO estimates that COVID-19 virus can transmit from one person to another in 5-6 days, whereas influenza can do it in 3 days.
Patients who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms are largely responsible for spreading the disease, not the people who are asymptomatic, like in influenza. However, patients can have mild symptoms such as cough and spread the virus without knowing. Quarantine and isolation are effective tactics in reducing COVID-19 transmission because they reduce the exposure of symptomatic patients to the public.
COVID-19 is significantly more deadly compared to influenza. The mortality rate of COVID-19, estimated by WHO, is approximately 1-2 deaths per 100 people infected; the Influenza death rate is 1 in every 1000 people infected. Therefore, research into a vaccine is so crucial to help reduce the high death rate.
5.Can Pets get COVID-19?
The short answer is yes. The American Medical Veterinary Association (AMVA) summarized important information regarding pets and COVID-19. There are reports of 2 dogs in Hong Kong and 1 cat in Belgium that have been infected with COVID-19. However, there is no evidence suggesting that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals or humans. The AMVA recommends that pet owners continue to interact with their pets as per usual. If you are infected with COVID-19, they suggest you limit contact with animals and have another household member take care of pet activities of walking, playing and feeding.
Apothecare will continue to provide more information regarding COVID-19 and wellness. Our next blog will be looking at treatment options for COVID-19 and vaccine development. Stay tuned for more information!