About Coronavirus (Covid-19) and Lyme
Many people with and without Lyme are fearful of Coronavirus also called Covid-19. In my Seattle Lyme practice, I am answering questions about what one should do to protect themselves and to boost their immune systems. Many wonder if immune dysregulation, caused by Lyme, increases their chances of acquiring the virus, having a severe case, or even death.
Here is what I am discussing and recommending.
First, most people who get Covid-19 have mild to moderate illness. Also, even in Seattle, the chances of getting the infection are quite low. Let’s look more at the numbers.
There are numerous estimates of the death rate for Covid-19. These estimates I have read in the last few days range from 1.4 percent to 3.4 percent. This compares to .1 to .2 percent for the seasonal flu. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports from China suggest 16% of people infected with Covid-19 will have a severe illness. This means 84% of people have mild to moderate infections.
While these statistics look bad, they probably dramatically over-estimate the severity of the illness. First, many with the illness appear to go undetected. If all people infected are accurately counted, this would drive down the suggested death rate and rate of severe illness. A great part of the death rate and illness severity is estimated based on cases in China. Compared to the US, the Chinese have a much greater rate of smoking. Smoking injures the lungs making it much more difficult for someone to tolerate the lung infection caused by Coronavirus.
Some experts suggest Covid-19 is much less infectious than the seasonal Flu while others think it is more infectious. Yet, at this point, even here in Seattle, the chance of getting Covid-19 is very small because this infection is still quite rare.
What About The Person with Lyme
At this time, we have no idea if someone with Lyme will have a greater problem handling this infection than any other person. Just because Lyme may suppress the immune system to fight Lyme, it does not mean the immune system is suppressed to fight other germs like new or even common viruses such as the Flu. In general, people who are over 60 or who have underlying heart or lung issues are the ones who are dying or have complicated illness.
Prevent Covid-19 Infection
There are some simple steps that people can take to prevent getting this infection. These are common recommendations put forward by public health departments like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health – Seattle & King County. You can download the Seattle & King County flier here.
Avoid Close Contact with People Who Are Sick
Try to stand at least three feet away from someone who is ill or coughing. This decreases your chances of contacting respiratory and mucous droplets that carry the virus. If someone is coughing or sneezing, move away from them.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or a hand sanitizer removes germs you may pick up. Simple soap works great.
Avoid Touching Your Face, Mouth, Nose, and Eyes
Covid-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. If these get on your hands and then you touch your face or parts of your face, you could spread the virus to yourself.
Support Your Innate Immune System
There are two parts of the immune system that fight infections. One part is called the “innate immune system” and the other is called the “acquired immune system”. The innate immune system fights new germs, like Covid-19, the body has never seen before.
The acquired immune system includes cells and antibodies primed to fight infections which the immune system has learned to fight. For instance, in chronic Lyme it is white blood cells and antibodies in the acquired immune system that help fight the infection. The acquired immune system also is activated by vaccines. See How to Boost The Immune System in Lyme for information about how to support the acquired immune system.
To fight Covid-19, it is the innate immune system that will act first. The innate immune system is composed of barriers like our skin and mucous membranes like those in the nose. It includes various types of immune cells like Natural Killer Cells (NK), Dendritic Cells, Macrophages, Phagocytes, and Mast Cells. Some of the innate immune cells produce protein virus and bacteria germ killers.
A healthy lifestyle helps. Both parts of the immune system work best when one gets seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Emotional toxins like stress and worry suppress immune function – so find ways to destress like counseling, meditation, keep hobbies, visit friends, and exercise.
There are a number of supplements one can take to support and boost the innate immune system.
- Vitamin A supports mucous membranes that act like a barrier to keep germs out. Vitamin A also regulates the immune system.
- Vitamin D modulates the immune system, prevents excess inflammation, helps macrophages kill germs, and increases antimicrobial proteins that kill germs. In the case of the Flu, people who take Vitamin D regularly have marked decrease in Flu symptoms and the severity of the Flu compared to those who do not take Vitamin D and have the Flu.
- Beta-Glucans found in mushrooms like Reishi turn on Macrophages, NK cells, and Phagocytes.
- Transfer Factors are proteins made by immune cells that turn on various cells like NK cells. One product made by Researched Nutritionals called Transfer Factor Multi-Immune is shown in a very small study to improve NK function by 600%.
- Probiotics appear to prime most innate immune system cells.
- Glutathione appears to help Dendritic Cells. This can be increased either by taking liposomal glutathione or N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) which is a building block for glutathione.
- Prevent contact with the Covid-19 infection.
See “Prevent Covid-19 Infection” section above or the Public Health – Seattle & King County flier for more information.
- Practice a healty immune system supporting lifestyle.
Get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Find ways to lower stress like those mentioned above.
- Use supplements to support innate immune system function*
- Transfer Factor Multi-Immune by Researched Nutritionals 1 pill 2 times a day
- Reishi Mushrooms 400 mg 1 pill 3 times a day
- Vitamin A 5000 IU 1 time a day
- Vitamin D 5000 IU 1 time a day. Be careful by working with your physician to keep your level between 50-80. Levels above 150 can be toxic.
- Probiotics like Corebiotic by Researched Nutritionals or HMF Forte by Seroyal/Genestra 2 pills 1 time a day
- NAC 500mg 1 pill 3 times a day or liposomal glutathione 500 mg 1 time a day.
You can find the supplements I recommend at my Austin, Texas based online store, Marty Ross MD Supplements.
* Be aware there is no research showing these will actually help someone with Lyme who acquires Covid-19. But based on their function, these may help.
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