The Times are (Gradually) A-Changin’

Larry Leibowitz COVID-19 Updates

To my Patients and Friends,

Here’s the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic… I’ve tried to keep it short.

We’ve crossed the rubicon

States have begun to reopen.  We can debate endlessly as to whether or not all states should be opening, if some should not be opening, how states ought to proceed, why we should have a concrete national strategy for reopening, why we need adequate testing and contact tracing in place before states reopen, etc.  The bottom line now is that, as businesses reengage with their clientele, we need to act wisely in order to protect ourselves and to minimize the size and scope of the inevitable next wave.

The CDC just released its guidelines for reopening.  They appear to be less stringent than those delineated in their previous draft, and I wish they were more specific.  There’s more that we don’t know about this virus than that we do, and the facts change daily.  Even children and young adults (previously thought to be a relatively safe demographic) are becoming critically ill.  Our chain of protection will only be as strong as its weakest links.  We have already seen that some airlines have not consistently rearranged their seating patterns as has been recommended so as to minimize the risk of viral spread between passengers.  We’ve witnessed bars, restaurants and other venues filling up with unmasked patrons.  This very enlightening video details how easily the virus can spread from person to person in restaurant settings.  The reality is that many have understandably grown weary of physical-distancing, are feeling lonely or depressed and want (or need) to get back to work.  That said, these recent changes will put us all (and probably our economy’s future) at greater risk and will broaden the impact of the next wave.  We are indeed caught between a huge rock and a very, very hard place.  Currently, the virus is in charge; we are not.

At this point, it is incumbent upon every one of us to become even more vigilant.  I encourage you all to resist temptations to relax your physical distancing practices, to keep track of your children, to continue to be caring members of your communities, to trust scientists and to keep abreast of what’s happening locally as well as on statewide and national levels.  The following resources are very useful, and I encourage you to tap into them on a regular basis:

And if you haven’t already done so, please download and regularly participate in the How We Feel symptom-tracking app.  It’s very easy and incredibly important.

On vitamin D

You’ve probably read some news on the potential benefits of adequate vitamin D levels as related to COVID-19.  Some studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream may predispose those who contract the virus to an increased risk for complications.  Although a cause-and-effect relationship has yet to be definitively demonstrated, it would be reasonable to consider a daily vitamin D3 supplement in the range of 2000 IU (which can be purchased over-the counter).  Keep in mind that no supplement, vitamin D included, is completely free of potential side effects.

Cats catch COVID

Studies have shown that cats are vulnerable to COVID-19 and that they can transmit the virus to other felines.  What we don’t yet know is whether or not cats can transmit the virus to humans or other animals.  So if there is a suspected or laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the household, protect your cats as well as each other!

No excuses!

Results from a recent French study have suggested that smokers may be somewhat protected from COVID-19.  However, this should be taken with a puff of salt.  Although this may be true for reasons which have yet to be elucidated (but which may have something to do with nicotine), smokers who do catch COVID-19 are at greater risk for more severe disease.  So don’t get any ideas.

Moving on

Recent studies have confirmed that using the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 is of no benefit.   Many experts agree that we probably just need to let this one go.

On the flip side, evidence of the efficacy of the antiviral drug remdesivir continues to mount.  It seems to help expedite recovery in those who are most ill.  At this stage, questions about this agent revolve largely around how efficiently it can be distributed.   A potential solution to this dilemma may lie in its predecessor.  The prodrug, which is known in scientific circles as GS-441524 and is currently being sold on the black market in China to treat cats, may prove to be easier and less expensive to produce and distribute.  Stay tuned.

New tricks for an old dog

It may be possible that a 100-year-old vaccine originally introduced in some other countries as a means of preventing tuberculosis (though not terribly successfully) may prove to be effective against COVID-19.  The internet is rife with stories discussing the potential benefits of the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, most likely via certain immune-boosting properties.  Although studies are still underway and BCG may ultimately turn out to be just another hydroxychloroquine (see above), there is some reason for optimism.

Another perspective

We all need hope these days… and I can’t say enough about this video

That’s it for now… Stay safe, be well and I’ll see you soon!

As always please feel free to reach out to my office for any questions or click here for more information on my concierge practice.