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Factors that mitigate infection with SARS-COV-2 (that is, what protects you from overwhelming COVID-19): Health habits that might keep you from dying.


photo courtesy of engin akyurt and

These tidbits have come from a wide search of recent literature on COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and its causative agent, SARS-COV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2).

First, you should have blood type O positive.  Not easy to do, but if you can arrange to be born this way, that would be nice.  There is an association in multiple surveys between type O blood and less COVID (sorry, no reference at hand but there are several available).

Second, any diseases that you may have, such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney insufficiency, coronary heart disease, in fact any disease at all, even if it’s only a genetic tendency about which you are completely unaware, you should not have.  If you do have it, keep it under rigid control.  Now is the time to lose that weight, get your blood sugar down, lower your blood pressure, and take long-term asthma control medications like topical corticosteroids (inhaled cortisone and/or cortisone nasal spray)– but don’t take oral cortisone or other potent anti-inflammatories, unless your doctor tells you to do so.  This is common sense, and many studies show an association between chronic diseases and high mortality in COVID.

Third, if you have a vitamin D deficiency, or even think you might, you should take replacement doses of vitamin D3.  This is available over-the-counter– unfortunately, the research on all-cause mortality (death for any reason) is not conclusive (yet) but it is clear that even large doses of vitamin D3 are not bad for you (I’m gonna get dissed for saying that, but so be it).  Many people are low in D and don’t know it because it is still not routinely evaluated with the widely available blood test.   I won’t recommend a specific dose of D3, but you can ask your nutritionist.

On the other hand, vitamin A is potentially toxic and has not been seen to have any benefit in severe COVID-19 (see the above-referenced study again).  Multivitamins are fine, but they haven’t been shown to lengthen your life in general, so they’re optional unless you have a terrible diet already.

Fourth, you should be young at heart.  Try singing, the song that is.  You don’t have to be chronologically young (again, see the above-referenced study).  A positive mental attitude will help you no matter what else is happening.  You can still get sick, but having a good attitude and not being a pain in the neck will help others around you to rally to your side.

Finally, if you should have the misfortune to be exposed to a patient with COVID, try to make sure it’s a very light exposure.  I’m speculating here, but the experience with many other infectious diseases (like smallpox) is that small exposures can lead to mildly symptomatic disease, while massive exposures can be overwhelming.  This aspect of the new coronavirus has not yet been studied, which is not surprising given that the disease is only four months old.

Until a vaccine is widely available or we have a positive blood antibody test, it is incumbent upon us (we are obligated to) be careful and try to stay healthy in case we are exposed despite physically distancing ourselves from other susceptible people.



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