Friday, March 13, 2020

Should You Get Tested for the Corona Virus? Maybe Not.

When there is no treatment, testing is kind of pointless.

A woman in Seattle recently recovered from the Corona Virus which is astounding, as the survival rate is only 97% and even higher for young, healthy people such as herself.   She didn't know she had it as the symptoms were pretty mild.  It wasn't until after she was over it that they tested her and found out that she had that particular form of virus - and that five people at a party she had attended had also caught it there.

She stayed home for another 72 hours as a precaution so she would not spread it further.  After that - she was not contagious and was in fact, immunized by the experience.   She thought it was interesting to have had it, given all the hoopla and that she was a biologist.   But the "treatment" for this virus was like any other cold or flu virus - over the counter medicines and bed rest, with plenty of fluids.

Of course, it could get worse - as cold and flu viruses do.  When I moved to Washington, I used to get bad "colds" which were likely due to pollen.  I would end up with nasty nasal and ear infections that, left untreated, could have killed me.   But a simple dose of anti-biotics cleared that up.  For older and infirm people, such a virus could be what "puts you over the edge" into death.

Much heat and little light has been spread about testing for the virus.  Trump blames Obama for not having test kits ready.  That Obama!  He's responsible for daylight savings time, too!   Seems he just wants to unleash evil on the world.

But getting back to testing, since there is no "cure" for this virus, there is little point in being tested, unless you are already sick, and even then, only to isolate yourself so others don't get it.  Then again, if you're sick, you should be isolating yourself anyway - right?   If you are feeling healthy, chances are, the test will come back negative until the virus "incubates" at which point it may be too late to isolate yourself.

This isn't like the HIV virus today.  If you get HIV (which is a lot harder to get than a Corona virus!) there are treatments available - treatments that are more effective the earlier they are given.   In the early days of HIV testing, the testing might give you peace of mind (or freak you out, if the results were positive) but had little real effect.  Safe sex was the way to stop the spread of AIDS, not testing itself.    When there is treatment, testing makes much more sense.

And so it goes for the Corona Virus.   Not sneezing on people, washing your hands, and so on and so forth are all good things to do - and avoiding large crowds is part of this.  One of the "recommendations" I saw online was about "personal space" which is a pet peeve of mine.  People don't respect personal space as it is - for example, the classic "line humper" who thinks a line will go faster if he brushes up against you as if attempting sodomy at the checkout.

America is a big country, and as such, we have different ideas about personal space than overseas.  I notice that people from crowded countries (and crowded cities in America) tend to get "in your face" more and stand closer than folks from less crowded countries and from rural areas.   And yes, Chinese tourists are the number one offenders here - often swarming around you when leaving the their tour buses en masse.   So it doesn't surprise me that many of these epidemics start in China or other crowded Asian countries - they have different standards of "closeness" there.

When over here,though, please stand at a respectful distance - and stop hitting me with your selfie stick!

This virus thing will get worse before it gets better.  But the worse part is the panic we are experiencing now.   People are freaking out over a disease that has a fairly low mortality rate.   I had a friend with tongue cancer - given a 3% chance of survival.  He survived.   That was a scary situation.   Back in the day, the mortality rate from HIV was 100% - and people were rightly freaked out by that.

We need to put this whole thing in perspective.   Yes, an awful lot of people are going to get what amounts to a nasty cold and flu for a week or so.   A few of those people who are old and infirm, may die.   But eventually, the "pandemic" will peter out and we will all move on with life, mourning loved ones lost.

But the end of the world?  Hardly.   But that's the way the media and our politicians are selling it.

UPDATE: What is really scary is not this virus, but Trump.  He is now proposing limiting travel in the United States, while some governors are proposing limiting assemblies of more than a few people.  If I believed in conspiracy theories (which I do not) it would seem this is a neat way to enact marshal law.   Maybe Putin's recent election-for-life is inspiring Trump to do likewise!