By Dr. Michael Polsinelli, DC
Covid-19 is mutating.
England, South Africa, Brazil, and even Columbus, Ohio are reporting mutations in the coronavirus. Unfortunately, these mutations are between 30-70% more infectious than the original strain. This means that as we are coming off of the peak from the holidays, these strains are becoming the predominant strains in different areas. I believe that this will cause another peak in April.
It’s time to improve our mask wearing.
Because of the increased rate of infection of these new strains, we need to improve our relationships to our masks. So many times we put on loose fitting surgical or cloth masks to comply with rules. While these measures are better than no masks, they don’t fully stop aerosols from getting through air gaps. Single layer cloth masks also are weak barriers to aerosols.
In the past week, both Germany, Austria, and France have started to mandate and recommend medical grade masks for all of its citizens. This will be either surgical masks or FFP-2 masks (which are similar to N95 and KN95 masks). The reason is that these masks are significantly better than one or two layer cloth masks. The authors of this Atlantic article, state that cloth masks should have only been a stopgap measure until we could all get better quality masks. They describe how other countries have increased their mask production as well as distributed high quality masks to their citizens.
If you use a surgical mask, it is important to spend the time to make it fit properly. Knotting the ear loops and folding the sides greatly reduce air gaps and further protects against aerosols. This is an excellent tutorial on how to improve the fit of a surgical mask.
Others are arguing for us to double our masks. New research has shown that using double masks greatly reduces the rates of transmission.
I will be experimenting with different mask combinations to see if they are better than my current favorite Kitsbow mask. I like the plaid which is a thinner material. I find that the thinner material seals around my nose better than the thicker material. There are also HEPA filters that go inside. These are much larger than the small PM 2.5 filters that go in other masks. The mask also is the most comfortable for all day use and doesn’t irritate my ears. Because the straps can stretch out, I use cord blocks to keep the masks tight fitting.
Zinc deficiency connected to severe Covid-19 infections?
I’m finding that several of my patients who have had more severe Covid infections are zinc deficient. Years ago, one of my teachers told us that if a patient has a loss of taste or smell, see if they need zinc. Zinc is also important for the immune system. All of our enzymes in our body are zinc dependent.
New research is confirming this correlation between low zinc and increased Covid-19 symptoms. Unlike Vitamin D, I have been hesitant to recommend zinc across the board to my patients. Too much zinc can deplete other minerals and create other metabolic imbalances. It’s much easier to get too much zinc than Vitamin D.
However, in light of my observations and new research, I’m recommending each patient to be tested to see if they are currently zinc deficient. I’m also recommending that patients have some zinc on hand in case of infection. There is a difference between a chronic deficiency and an acute deficiency due to an infection.
Our current vaccines seem to be a little less effective for at least one of the new strains. However, in the worst case scenario, researchers believe that the vaccines can be altered easily and quickly.
In California in early January, 10 people had severe allergic reactions to a lot of Moderna vaccines after thousands of doses had been administered. After an investigation, the state declared it safe to use and released the lot after initially withholding them.
There are reports of elderly people dying after being vaccinated. A Florida doctor passed early this month, two weeks after getting vaccinated. Indiana had 3 patients pass away. Rumors have swirled after Hank Aaron passed away. Most dramatically, Norway had 33 elderly patients pass after being vaccinated. While some are saying that the vaccine had nothing to do with these deaths, that they were old and chronically ill and would have died otherwise, others are saying that while most of these people were at the end of their lives, one of the side effects from the vaccine could have contributed to a frail person’s death. By last Thursday, over 11 million people had received at least one dose of the vaccine in the US.
Personally, I’ve decided to get the vaccine. I took my own advice and received an antibody test (which was negative). I am waiting on the next Cuyahoga Board of Health vaccination clinic for healthcare workers. Most of my patients that have had a vaccination have only had mild symptoms (sore arm, headaches, fatigue) that lasted at most a few days for arm soreness.
There will be three more vaccines that will be requesting emergency authorization in the next few months. Johnson and Johnson has a single-dose vaccine that they will be asking for authorization by early next month. This and AstraZeneca’s vaccines are single-dose vaccines that use non-replicating viral material embedded with the Covid-19 spike protein to initiate an immune response. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has already been approved in Europe and should be requesting approval by the end of February. My understanding is that if approved, small amounts of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will become available in late February, with AstraZeneca’s following in March. Novavax will follow with another two-dose vaccine, requesting approval late next month or early March.
A pdf version with citations can be downloaded here.