By ANIL KANDA
Special to the Times
With the growing numbers and sometimes, conflicting information, how can we best navigate through this pandemic?
The CDC lays out a framework to best understand how a pandemic progresses:
First, the Investigation interval, where initial assessment begins. Second, a Recognition interval takes place, as the virus becomes more identifiable. Third, Initiation of a pandemic wave begins as the infection spreads more easily. Fourth, and probably the scariest, is the Acceleration phase. During this time, incidence rates skyrocket up the epidemiological curve. Interventions such as shelter in place, etc., are implemented. After the peak, the Deceleration time takes place as vaccines are produced and better monitoring of the disease. Finally, a Preparation stage is when continued monitoring for a potentially 2nd wave of infection.
Currently, California is in the Acceleration phase as infection numbers are multiplying every day. This is the time to practice social distancing, keeping your immune system up, and staying informed of any updates.
The good news is that countries such as China have peaked already and are decelerating/leveling off at record rates.
So what’s the bad news?
The bad news is the pandemics can have multiple waves of reinfection.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told reporters at a March 25 press conference, “What we’re starting to see in the Southern Hemisphere of Southern Africa and the Southern Hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season,” he said. “If they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle a second time.” A second cycle of this virus might begin again after incident rates drop. Fauci also stated China leveling of the virus has occurred, but new cases are coming or are “imported” by people coming into the country.
Has this occurred before? Yes, in 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, three separate waves were documented with the second wave have more case fatalities. An estimated 50 million people lost their lives during that tragic time.
What’s the good news?
Thirty-five labs are testing vaccines, and with the usual red tape of clinical testing standards mitigated, the expected timeframe 1-1.5 years will be drastically shorter. Some labs have already entered in clinical trials, with human testing in Seattle, Washington, and advancing ahead of other entities.
What are reasonable steps to take during this time, in what might be a rollercoaster of a uncertain future?
1) It’s essential to listen to public health officials and follow the recommended protocols. The more we cooperate, the faster we come out of this time. Public Health agencies, both local and statewide, research history of patterns in pandemics and have access to vital information that can make containment strategies successful. Check out your county websites, California Public Health Department website, and the CDC’s primary website for updates. Stay informed everyday of progress.
2) Social distancing is crucial right now. This protocol has been shown to slow down incidence rates drastically. From history, this measure was implemented to mitigate the rates of other infectious diseases successfully. And yes, a better term would be “physical distancing” rather than social distancing because we need to stay socially connected via email, phone calls, social media, etc.
3) Keep your immune system high. Everything from eating healthy to daily exercise is vital while under this shelter in place measure. Vitamin D intake is also essential in dealing with a virus that attacks respiratory systems. Why would vitamin D lower risk for respiratory sickness? You need adequate vitamin D to produce antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria. “If you don’t have adequate vitamin D circulating, you are less effective at producing these proteins and more susceptible to infection,” says Dr. Adit Ginde, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “These proteins are particularly active in the respiratory tract.” Vitamin D turns on your body’s defense system, especially regarding diseases affecting your respiratory system. And of course, please stay in touch with medical professionals before making any diet adjustments.
4) Stay away from artificial sugar! How can we give up our Pepsi, candy, cookies, etc.? Because sugar temporarily shuts down the immune system. The effect lasts for several hours, so if you eat sweets multiple times in a day, your immune system may be perpetually operating at a distinct disadvantage.” Research was done in which study subjects donated blood before and after consuming much sugar. The blood was then placed in a petri dish and inoculated with bacteria. Under a microscope, researchers could see that after a dose of sugar, specific white blood cells called neutrophils were far less aggressive in gobbling up the bacteria. It was a “vivid demonstration that served as a powerful cautionary tale about the harmful effects of sugar.” White blood cells are like soldiers guarding the fortress of the human body, but sugar puts them to sleep, allowing invaders to come in. If you have diabetes, again, please contact your doctor before making any changes.
Last but not least, have a positive frame of mind. The landscape of our world has changed dramatically in the previous few weeks, and it can be hard to recognize our same world anymore. But we can get through this time together, patiently and prayerfully.
Stay informed, stay connected, and stay positive.
Anil Kanda is finishing graduate studies in Public Health through Andrews University. He currently resides in Chowchilla, and loves the country life. He has a German shepherd named “Hero” and loves the outdoors. Anil is born and bred in California!