It’s quite unfortunate that we doctors ourselves are partly responsible for the confusion among the public now regarding COVID-19.
There’s a series of videos which has gone viral, attributed to the World Doctor’s Alliance. One of these videos shows the leaders of the alliance seated close to each other without face mask, as they take turns convincing the viewers that COVID-19 is no worse than the seasonal flu, and that all this media hype we’re getting appears to be part of a long-hatched grand plan to subject the global population to vaccination.
Another video, coming from another group, warns that the COVID-19 vaccines actually contain a fluorescent component that can tag all who are vaccinated, and this actually deprives all vaccinated individuals of their privacy, as they can be perpetually monitored as to their locations, their health conditions, and even intimate details like how many times they’re going to the bathroom to pee, whether or not women are ovulating or if men are producing enough sperm, how many times they made love in a given period, and other details you may not want to share even with your best friend.
This conspiracy theory sounds like something from a science fiction movie (and I bet there will soon be a movie exploiting this theme). Although I’ve repeatedly emphasized in this space that we have exaggerated fears about COVID-19 distorting our perspective, swinging like a pendulum to the other side and believing that the risks are all just creative hype in media fueled by people with vested interests is equally dangerous.
Back in medical school, one of our professors had what he called the “Each-to-Each” Doctrine, stating that both doctor and patient must give to each disease its proper risk profile, so that the most appropriate treatment can be given, corresponding to the risks involved. I recall the example he gave was that we don’t need a sledgehammer to kill an ant.
I think this principle remains applicable to this day, if only our men of science—who are supposed to be most knowledgeable about COVID-19—could just get their act together, and not bewilder the public with conflicting messages.
Another dictum in medicine is that “it’s better to err on the safe side.” So don’t throw caution to the wind just because there are some doctors who believe that COVID-19 is not riskier than the seasonal flu, and wearing face masks and social distancing don’t make any sense. It’s still better to be careful than sorry later on. But again, maintain your physical and mental equilibrium, because constant worry and fear can get you to the hospital not only due to COVID-19, but many other stress-related diseases.
Dr. Paolo Alberto Veronesi, one of my scientist friends based in Milan, Italy, sent me an email expressing concern about the apparent mutation the COVID-19 virus is undergoing worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia. He cites an article recently published by Medscape noting a particular strain of the coronavirus that may be responsible for the latest outbreaks in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. Scientists are now studying the virus and determining if the mutation has made the virus more infectious and deadlier.
The strain was supposed to have originated from Europe and is now the main variant detected in the United States. The same variant has apparently gone across the globe, settling also in the Philippines and Malaysia. This could be the reason our number of new cases has not significantly gone down to reassuring levels.
The culprit mutation strain has been identified by scientists as D614G. Our local researchers have found the same strain from samples taken in Manila. Malaysia also reported the same strain.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) assures that there’s no evidence that the mutation is more infectious or that it causes more severe disease. But I have realized by now that WHO pronouncements are not Bible truth, and should be taken with a grain of salt.The implication of this new mutant strain being predominantly seen in the Philippines is not only that it could be more infectious and deadly, but that available vaccines may not be effective to prevent it. Most of the vaccines under trial are based on the old strain of the coronavirus. It may not be effective for mutant strains.
It can be just like the flu virus which also mutates; hence, we need a flu shot every year. With the safety of the vaccines still unsettled because of the way the trials are being rushed, getting it yearly may have potentially serious consequences for the long term.
I hope the vaccine developers are already factoring in this mutation in their research and clinical trials.
There’s also a possibility that a mutant strain of the coronavirus could be transmitted from minks to humans. Denmark, which has a mink population of around 17 million, is in a bind over what to do with their mink population. The new virus strains were identical in humans and in minks, and they also showed reduced sensitivity against antibodies, which again raises the question on the efficacy of current vaccines undergoing clinical trial.
Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is inclined to make a difficult decision to resolve the issue.
“We have a great responsibility toward our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility to the rest of the world, as well,” she was quoted in the media as saying.
With all these recent developments, Dr. Veronesi writes in his email that he and his fellow scientists believe that administering melatonin, at doses that could boost the immune system, could help activate human response against these mutant strains and prevent their proliferation.
Dr. Veronesi’s group has done many studies on melatonin for severe infections using experimental animals. We came to know each other after our group here at Manila Doctors Hospital published the first report on the use of high-dose melatonin in actual patients with COVID-19.
These developments in COVID-19 are really discomfiting. Just when we thought that the COVID-19 fever was cooling down, there’s the threat of reemergence due to these mutant strains.
I think the best solution—no matter what strains the coronavirus could reinvent itself as—is to keep one’s immune system healthy with the lifestyle measures we’ve kept on repeating here, plus supplements of vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D and melatonin.And if anyone tells you that face masks and physical distancing don’t work, just give that person a smile and wear your face mask anyway. INQ