" In the last 18 months, the world has witnessed the mutation of covid-19 viruses that may make them more resistant to the existing vaccines."
Firstly identified in 1960s, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses including the common cold virus, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the covid-19 viruses. As per 28th of November 2021, there have been more than 261 million covid-19 cases and 5.2 million deaths worldwide. In the USA, there have been around 800,000 people died from coronavirus infection while more than 144,000 covid-19 deaths have been recorded in the UK.
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Covid-19 Vaccines and Their Efficacy
Covid-19 vaccines are widely available in most countries so people can get fully vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen or Sinovac. Many countries have joined the race to vaccinate their residents including children. Data from government showed that the existing vaccines are effective, however, vaccinated people may still catch covid-19 and be seriously ill. It is important to make sure that we do more to protect ourselves and others from being seriously ill with covid-19. In the last 18 months, the world has witnessed the mutation of covid-19 viruses that may make them more resistant to the existing vaccines.
People with a strong immune system are unlikely going to die from covid-19. People who suffer from diabetes, lung disease, cancer or other chronic diseases are at a higher risk from a life-threatening condition due to coronavirus infection.
Just like with the common cold virus; the covid-19 viruses can stay on door handles, tables, chairs and circulate in the air. The common cold virus that belong to the same coronavirus family can survive on indoor surfaces for up to 9 days, although their ability to cause an infection will be rapidly reduced after 24 hours. Outside the body, coronavirus tend to survive longer on non-porous (water resistant) surfaces like plastics and metals.
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5 Ways to Fight Off Coronavirus
Although covid-19 vaccines are available, none of them was developed to fight off new covid variants such as omicron, delta, beta, gamma, lambda and mu. With the resurgence of covid-19 infection worldwide, we can only hope that the existing covid-19 vaccines like Pfizer's, Moderna's, AstraZeneca's, Janssen's and Sinovac help prevent people from being seriously ill with the new variants.
1. Wear a face mask whenever you are out in public
Even at this stage of the covid-19 pandemic, it is still better to prevent rather than to cure. Every government should require people to wear a face mask properly when they go out in public places. There shouldn't be an exception. Coronavirus doesn't discriminate people according to their gender, age, race or medical condition. Everyone can be infected by coronavirus. People who can't wear a face mask due to a medical condition should be asked to stay at home.
As a scientist who lives in London, I find people can be very ignorant of their own and other people's health. Some people don't even bother to cover their mouth and nose properly when they cough or sneeze in public places including on busses, trains and in the libraries. Even if we have been fully vaccinated, it is best to stay at home when we are not feeling well. We are more likely to catch covid-19 when we are unwell.
2. Keep up with the good standard of hygiene
To reduce the possibility of getting a coronavirus infection through the contaminated surfaces in public places like toilet doors, door handles, restaurant tables and chairs; carry a hand sanitiser or wipes with you all the time. Wash your hands properly without being too paranoid about it. Excessive hand washing can be damaging for your skin. Skin protects our body from pathogenic microorganisms.
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3. Get enough sleep (rest) and whenever possible stay active physically
Sleep deprivation and tiredness can knock down your immune system and make you more prone to covid-19. Make sure that you get enough sleep and rest.
Stay active physically if you can. For healthy people, regular exercise like going for a one-hour walk everyday will significantly help boost the immune system and wellbeing. Manage your stress levels. Both physical and emotional stress can adversely affect your immune system. You are more vulnerable to coronavirus infection when you are physically or emotionally exhausted.
4. Cut down on fried, grilled, barbecued and sugary foods
A study in the UK based on the data of 23,698 people who have died from covid-19 in the hospital showed that a third of them were diabetics. Eat healthy and if you have diabetes, keep monitoring your blood sugar levels. Don't overeat, especially if you are not physically active due to lockdown or else. High blood sugar levels promote inflammation, the major factor in covid-19 mortality. Coronavirus infection can cause inflammation in the lungs, triggering pneumonia which is one of the serious symptoms of covid-19.
Inflammation has been associated with some potentially fatal diseases such as cancer, covid-19, heart diseases and diabetes. According to China's National Health Commission (NHC), around 75% of covid-19 deaths are among people with pre-existing health conditions, mainly cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Limit the consumption of foods that promote inflammation in your body. Fried, grilled and barbecued foods are known to trigger oxidative stress in the body. The same with sugary foods and beverages including the artificially sweetened ones. These type of foods and beverages can cause inflammation in the body and weaken your immune system, so you are more likely to suffer from coronavirus infection. With covid-19, your survival is heavily depending on your own immune system. Even with the availability of covid-19 vaccines, a strong immune system is crucial in fighting off the coronavirus infection.
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5. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs
Fruits, vegetables and herbs contain many vitamins and antioxidants that are beneficial for your health. Although foods don't usually provide instant medicinal benefits; some foods are known for their antiviral properties.
A recent study showed that garlic is as effective as cryotherapy in the treatment of male genital warts caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). Another study involving 146 people indicated that garlic helps prevent and shorten the duration of common cold.
Another study showed that fresh ginger possesses the antiviral activities against human respiratory syncytial virus. This study interestingly revealed that ginger needs to be taken fresh (raw). Dried or processed ginger doesn't have similar antiviral activities. Since coronavirus tends to severely affect the respiratory system, eating fresh ginger regularly may help ease covid-19 symptoms.
In addition to raw garlic and ginger, make sure you get enough vitamins to boost your immune system. If you don't eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, you can take a vitamin supplement. Studies showed that vitamin C and D in high doses help reduce the severity and fatality of covid-19 among hospitalised patients. However, do not take a high dose vitamin without consulting your doctor. Unless recommended by your doctor, you should not take more than 2,000mg of vitamin C and 4,000IU of vitamin D a day.
Fresh garlic and ginger to boost immune system
Since I have been eating fresh garlic and ginger everyday, I haven't catch a cold or flu in the last few years. Depending on the size, I usually chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (fresh/raw) into tiny pieces and mix them with my foods. I tend to eat a lot of ginger as I love the taste of fresh ginger in my fruit salad for breakfast.
If you have any particular medical condition or taking any medication, always discuss with your GP before you eat garlic or ginger regularly. Eating raw garlic or taking a garlic supplement may reduce the efficacy of certain drugs such as HIV drugs. Garlic is known to help protect our body from toxic chemicals, hence, it may reduce the efficacy of drugs.
As always, seek a medical help immediately if you suffer from breathing difficulties or any other serious symptom that requires an urgent medical attention.
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Henry Tianus is a multi-award-winning Anti-Ageing Scientist based in London, UK. Henry Tianus has been listed as The Recognised Institute Practitioner at The Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), London (UK) since 2005. Henry Tianus's articles have been read by people in more than 100 countries with USA and UK at the top of the list. Join Henry Tianus eNewsletter to receive the latest health and wellbeing tips.
Scientific Sources: The effect of Allium sativum (Garlic) extract on infectious bronchitis virus in specific pathogen free embryonic egg, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 2016 Jul-Aug, 6(4): 458-267; Coronavirus and The Common Cold, Stanford University; Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 2014 Jan-Feb, 4(1): 1-14; Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2013 Jan 9;145(1):146-51; Coronavirus: 100,000 may already be infected, experts warn, The Guardian (UK), 26-01-2020; Coronavirus, World Health Organization, 15-01-2020; Antiviral activity of garlic extract on Influenza virus, Iranian Journal of Virology 2008/ 2009, 2 (1); A clinical study of efficacy of garlic extract versus cryotherapy in the treatment of male genital wart, Dermatologica Sinica, Volume 36, Issue 4, December 2018, Pages 196-199; How long do bacteria and viruses live outside the body?, NHS (UK); Covid-19 Coronavirus Otbreak, Worldometers; Two coronavirus cases confirmed in UK, BBC (UK); Coronavirus claims 97 lives in one day - but number of infections stabilises, BBC; Top Chinese expert Zhong Nanshan clarifies only 1 case in coronavirus study shows 24-day incubation period, The Straits Times Singapore, 12-02-2020; NHSE Statistics on Coronavirus Deaths in People with Diabetes, 27-05-2020, Diabetes UK; Age and conditions of Coronavirus cases, Wordometer, 8-February-2021.
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