Rick Loftus, MD has offered the following suggestions, based on his expertise as a front line Covid ICU doc, public health expert, virologist, and immunologist. And I’ve added some of my own. I hope this helps boil down a lot of hopefully supportive advice in one easy post.
As I wrote in my post about the difference between optimizing individual health and cooperating with public health (https://lissarankin.com/natural-health-and-public-health-vaccination-and-immune-boosting/), we do not have to choose between natural health, functional medicine, conventional medicine, spiritual medicines, trauma healing, and public health medicine! We need ALL the tools in the world’s medicine bag these days, so let’s use what we have.
COVID VACCINE: First, please do what you can to protect Rick and others like him on the front lines by making sure you’re vaccinated unless you have a medical exemption, and do your best (I know it’s nearly impossible in some cases) to influence those who are vaccine-hesitant, especially if you’re in a position of power and can exercise that power to influence people as an employer, online influencer, or community leader.
Keep in mind that your vaccination is like a hand shield, not a full suit of armor. If your goal is to avoid infection (and I advise that for now, that should still be your goal), do not rely on vaccination alone to protect you. The following both/and holistic, conventional, and public health advice is meant as a supplement to vaccination, not an alternative. The single best thing you can do for your personal health and for public health is getting the mRNA vaccines if you can. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer 95% protection against previous strains of Covid, they appear to be only 50% effective against the Delta strain, so breakthrough infections are possible, though you’re still far less likely to wind up hospitalized or dead, and you’re far less likely to transmit the Delta strain if you are vaccinated.
SOCIAL DISTANCE AND MASK UP: If you can’t get vaccinated or exercise your freedom to refuse it, stay home for now. Mask up with N95 or KN95 masks (cloth masks aren’t enough) if you must be indoors. If you’re outdoors shoulder to shoulder for any longer than 5 minutes, also wear your mask. I have obtained and am also using Livinguard cloth masks, which have electrostatic fibers woven into the cloth; can be washed and reused (unlike N95 and KN95 masks); and based on German evaluation, Livinguard masks confer protection equal to a KN95. They make models for kids too. Avoid being indoors right now if you can, but if you have to be indoors with other humans for more than 15 min, wear a face shield or goggles. Recent research shows even regular glasses are protective compared to no eye protection at all.
NASAL SPRAYS: Use a twice-daily nasal spray to coat your nose with an antiviral coating. You can buy Viruseptin, a Swedish product, off eBay or Bonanza. It contains carrageenan. Xlear is an American product that also confers protection; it contains grapefruit seed extract (GSE). There are other nasal spray brands similar to Xlear with GSE. Studies show broad antiviral traits of carrageenan and GSE in the test tube, including against SARS-CoV-2. Since the nose is where COVID gets a foothold, usually, I think nasal sprays are important protection. Ultimately I think better COVID vaccines will be given by nasal spray rather than shots.
VIT D: Vitamin D3 2000 units daily ensures you aren’t deficient in this nutrient, which helps ward off respiratory viral infections especially in those deficient in Vit D.
ZINC: Zinc 20-40mg daily is reasonable, but I think promptly sucking on zinc lozenges every 1-2 hours for 2-3 days at the first sign of sniffles or scratchy throat may work better- there’s strong literature on all respiratory viruses for this use of zinc. (After a few months of daily oral zinc, take a break. It’s possible, though rare, to take too much zinc.)
QUERCETIN: Quercetin 500 mg twice daily may be helpful and I use it.
PEPCID: Pepcid antacid 20 mg twice daily has had some evidence of protection against COVID and there’s little downside to using it, so I do.
MELATONIN: I also take melatonin 5mg daily at bedtime.
IF YOU THINK YOU’VE CONTRACTED COVID:
- Up the dose of quercetin to 500mg three times daily
- Add Vitamin C 2000mg daily (and do not take it at the same time as zinc, as it may make you vomit; space out by a couple of hours)
- Add NAC (N-acetylcysteine) 1000 mg twice daily.
WHAT ABOUT PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES?
The Federal government has purchased 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir, a new, specific anti-COVID oral medication made by Merck and discovered at Emory University. The drug must complete trials before Merck can apply for emergency FDA approval, and they’d have to make millions of doses, so I doubt we’ll see it available during surge 4, but maybe by surge 5 this winter (we will need it). Meanwhile, I have ordered favipiravir, which *might* work against COVID if given in high doses very early in infection. I ordered from India, but it likely won’t arrive until early Sept if it gets here at all.
Other existing drugs have been tried against COVID. Despite an early interest in hydroxychloroquine, when we finally studied it, we learned it was more likely to cause bad side effects and had no impact on COVID. Ivermectin has somewhat better data but some of the studies were really garbage; it might be worth taking if there were no standard treatments available and some front-line doctors are taking it, but the data isn’t conclusive. Fenofibrate and statin cholesterol drugs are being studied for COVID and we’ll see if they help. If you’re already on a statin or fenofibrate, keep taking it.
I saw data at a Grand Rounds on Friday on the monoclonal antibodies we use to treat COVID. While it is true that one of them (from Eli Lilly corp) doesn’t work at all against Delta, the other, the Regeneron product that Trump got, still works 50% against Delta. It is good we still have that treatment option. There is also one other monoclonal developed against SARS-1, sotrovimab, that has been emergently approved now to use against Delta, as it targets a region that is similar between SARS-1 and COVID.
Steroids only help if you need oxygen, and harm if you’re doing okay on room air. Get a pulse oximeter for home; if you’re above 93%, you don’t need a medical facility. Antibiotics don’t help unless you *also* have a bacterial infection (in which case, you’ll be in the hospital). If you’re not sick enough to be in hospital, you won’t need either steroids or antibiotics for COVID.
Keep in mind that the longer you can delay getting Covid, the more time scientists have to develop better treatments. You’re much more likely to survive Covid now if you have a breakthrough infection than you would have been a year and a half ago, so this is good news! Science is a long, slow, arduous process, but just as we’ve turned HIV from a lethal infection into a mostly chronic disease, we will learn more over time. It’s possible we will all get Covid at some point in our lifetimes because we have likely missed the window for herd immunity because of the stubborn and willful lack of cooperation with public health measures, which needed to be implemented swiftly before the virus mutated. But hopefully, the more time we buy the scientists, the better your outcome will be.
The CDC and FDA just approved Covid vaccine boosters for administration 8 months after the first dose. Nursing home residents and front-line workers will most likely be the first to be boostered (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/16/us/politics/booster-shots.html).
WHAT ABOUT DIET?
A very small and imperfect body of data (https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/early/2021/05/18/bmjnph-2021-000272) suggests that a plant-based diet may improve your outcome if you get Covid. [Lissa’s note: I am regularly drinking my kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, yellow beet, lemon juice as an unproven prophylaxis, cleansing agent, and superfood nutritional supplement, and yes, I realize what a privilege it is to be able to make this regularly from organic produce.]
Carry on with your usual health-inducing, immune-boosting routines so your body can fight Covid at maximal capacity if you do get it. Treating your traumas with cutting edge trauma therapies, non-bypassing, embodied prayer and meditation practices, healthy emotional regulation and expression so you don’t bottle up all the fear, anger, and sadness so many feel, regular movement and exercise like hiking, working out, yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong, listening to nervous system regulating music, creative practices like art, dancing, singing, and journal writing, nature offerings and other gratitude practices, and safe ways to come into communities of healing- either outdoors or on Zoom.
HEALING WITH THE MUSE
We offer all of these in Healing With The Muse, along with psycho-education about healing trauma and other spiritual healing practices. If you can afford to purchase a membership to help support all the unpaid volunteer activism my team has been doing, please do! We could use the help right about now.
*Rick and Lissa both understand that access to some of these medicines is a privilege that cannot be readily accessed and scaled at the public health level, so let us also do what we can at the policy level to improve health equity, support non-profits aimed at addressing this (like my non-profit venture Heal At Last), and vote for politicians that care about health equity and social justice.
*If you want to help prevent breakthrough infections, also PLEASE stop spreading misinformation. Find trustworthy sources and don’t help the Disinformation Dozen get even one more view. Their delusional, reality-denying misinformation is literally killing people. Please be part of the caring community that is helping to stop the spread of their distorted messaging. You can help by not spreading misinformation and unfollowing anyone who is spreading pandemic-spreading lies. We need to rally together to get a handle on converging crises- with compassion and kindness but also with fierce love that says NO to those causing harm with their ignorance and malice.
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*Art by Gaia Orion