In this follow-up interview, Don E. Ford speaks with Dr. Burdette, PhD about the mutations of COVID19 and the myths prevalent through social media.
To begin, Dr Burdette highlights a moment in time comparing Ohio and Michigan’s confirmed cases. Both states were in parity until Ohio postponed their primary election and Michigan continued with theirs on March 17. The effect is staggering as cases began to climb dramatically in Michigan. How can this be if the virus requires an extended incubation period?
Dr. Burdette says that is a myth, “The primary was just one event, but if you look at how Ohio responded versus how Michigan responded and the primary is where you can see it really kick off.”
“The Ohio governor, very early on, said ‘this is really bad,’ and he started locking things down weeks ago. This is what should have been done at a national level.”
Ohio still has the rise in the curve, but it is rising slower than cases in Michigan.
Dr. Burdette cites an article in Science Magazine that showed computer modeling supports the assumption that confirmed cases and actual cases differ by an order of magnitude because the level of testing is small compared to the population as a whole.
Is treating the symptoms the best course of action to help people and preserve resources for the most in need? Dr. Burdette points to CDC guidelines which suggest aggressively treating the symptoms at the outset and treating them at home reduces the risk of severity in otherwise healthy people. By ignoring minor symptoms, the virus itself accelerates replication within the body and can risk not only the person infected, but adds risk to community members who are immuno-compromised or struggle with chronic health concerns.
Dr. Burdette said, “Our immune systems are not built to handle this. By allowing your body to fight it, we are building up that immunity.”
“What we have seen in China is there are people who are asymptomatic, they do not have they symptoms, but they are carrying a full viral load in the their saliva and essentially spreading the virus for weeks after they are “cured” or they are well.”
Dr. Burdettte explains that CORVID19 is an RNA type of virus without a cell wall, a “protein coat,” as it were. This is why a virus like CORVID19 is vulnerable to soap and ethanol, heat, and ingredients in hand sanitizers, etc.
He goes on the explains that this matters because even after your body has produced antibodies to fight off the virus and you are feeling well, there is still a surviving pool of virus within your body.
“It’s not enough to make you symptomatic, but there is a surviving pool of the virus that is still living within you, ” Dr. Burdette explains.
But what about the trail cures being shared on social media and reports suggesting Italy may have a stronger version of the virus?
“One of the things that make viruses so hearty and so hard to create drugs against is that they are essentially a single piece of DNA without an ‘error checking mechanism.
“So when our cells reproduce they have these error checking mechanisms that go through and make sure everything is as it should be in the DNA. Viruses don’t really have that and neither do bacteria. What that does is allows for a very rapid rate of mutation and a very rapid rate of evolution.
“The thing about these resurgences is that we don’t know for sure if they are cases of re-infection or cases of relapse. Remember someone can carry a viral load for weeks and not have any symptoms…every time it infects someone it has the chance to mutate into something slightly different.”
Dr. Burdette then points to the flaw in the lack of testing, even with lock downs, as a detriment to the entire effort to stall the spread of COVID19. He cites the guidance provided by the World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan, who admonished the handling of the pandemic without adequate testing. This could lead to a massive resurgence in outbreaks once the quarantine and lock downs are lifted.
Dr. Michael Ryan: “Every suspect case should be tested, their contacts identified. If those contacts are sick or showing symptoms, they should be tested. That requires a scale-up, because many countries have not been systematically testing all suspect cases, and it’s one of the reasons why we’re behind in this epidemic.”
Dr. Burdette discusses the importance of a proper diet, but even that does not prevent illness. Personal habits and hygiene also play a part of that preparation. He argues that a program like Medicare for All that allows for health access across the entire population, regardless of personal net worth, is another matter of protection that should be considered as a practical solution.
The United States Surgeon General is expecting this week and the next few weeks are going to be trying for the healthcare system and in a matter of loss of life. Much of the severity will be predicated by the actions taken to flatten the curve in each state. Add to this the lack of real data available from a lack of testing for the virus.
“We just don’t have the real numbers. Like I said, this article that came out in Science [Magazine] saying in the original Wuhan epidemic they were underestimating by 86%. Think about that. That means that only 14% of actual cases were being reported and documented,” Dr. Burdette noted.
Dr. Burdette cautions the public to continue to be vigilant. COVID19 does survive on surfaces:
- 24 hours on cardboard and porous surfaces which have a dehydrating effect
- 72 -96 hours on non-porous surfaces like stainless steel and plastics
- Sunlight does not kill the virus, only UVC radiation from germicidal lighting does that.
Aseptic techniques would be ideal for the public to be familiar with as even masks and gloves are ineffective if the wearer isn’t knowledgeable about proper protocols. It is important for the general public to be familiar with these protocols from proper hand washing to usage of protective gear.