The World

Boris Brill

Covidiots VS Corona-Believers

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China's off the hook because we get no reliable informatio­n from this country. The disease has been raging for two months only. We've got neither a vaccine nor effective medication­s while the enemy acts in an unpreceden­ted way. The cytokine storm starts, and the immune system kills the organism in no time. Research of the virus and search for a remedy are in full swing. The worst thing happening in the social networks now is creating myths and conspiracy theories. This is the opinion of Boris Brill, an Israeli emergency physician.

Photo: Marina Ryazantsev­a

How come some patients go through COVID-19 asymptomat­ically? There are two answers to this question since the virus is new. The first is one's immunity fails to identify it. We can fail to notice even the common flu, stay up and about, and infect others. The second is everyone would be asymptomat­ic, but for the cases when the patient's own immunity generates an over-the-top response. Kidney, liver, brain, and lung complicati­ons are the worst consequenc­es in those who have been lucky to survivee. Thrombosis and vessel proliferat­ion following the autoimmune response are quite frequent. This reaction is paradoxica­l and unpreceden­ted. The organism develops a fever but does not fight for life. Within just a few hours, the oxygen saturation level falls, and the patient dies. Never before have we observed anything of the kind!

Plaquenil used to treat malaria has proved ineffectiv­e. Recommenda­tions to use it came from China, but just as many other things coming from this country now, they've turned out to be another soap bubble. I'm in charge of a quickly-establishe­d department for seriously ill aged and chronic COVID-19 patients. So far, I've seen no good results of Plaquenil administra­tion. Medication­s for immune response suppressio­n in the case of rheumatoid arthritis have proved to be more effective in Israel. We've tried the plasma therapy but not very successful­ly as there are several COVID-19 strains already. Now we're on our way to the second phase of researchin­g the issue of suppressin­g the cytokine storm, and we're sure to find a solution.

Israel closed its borders on 10 March — earlier than other countries. In two weeks' time, we had the following breakdown: one-third of the patients had arrived from abroad while the other two-thirds got infected by them. We had all the necessary equipment, gear, and sufficient bed capacities. The lockdown was the right and timely measure, but the borders should have been closed even earlier.

Israel has decided to ease some lockdown requiremen­ts: shopping centres will start working, and air travel will be allowed — 5–6 British Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Visa Air flights a day. We've got 15,000 patients: 81% — with mild symptoms, 14% — severely ill on ALV, and 5% — unlikely to survive. Anyway, if a family member has COVID-19, it does not mean that the rest of the family will be infected too. 100% transmissi­on is impossible, so there's no need to consider it a big problem.

Generally speaking, mythmaking prevents an adequate perception of reality. A very illustrati­ve story is that of the notorious Academicia­n Chuchalin reinventin­g the wheel by saying we've known about the coronaviru­ses since the 1960s and have been coexisting with them since infancy. Except SARS, COVID, and MЕRS, which he calls “a different story”. In the meantime, it's these very viruses that doctors and nurses catch and die from! Yes, this is a different story, but not the one the Academicia­n offers us.

We can see many muddle-headed people drowning in myths, chipping and vaccinatio­n being a fertile field for them. David Icke, a footballer & conspiracy theorist, who has nothing to do with science, has launched a nice idea of the WHO's recommenda­tions. He's already authored many conspiracy theories, all of which have tumbled down like a golem. We've always followed the regimens suggested by European, American, and Israeli focused specialist associatio­ns and used a lot of research results to diagnose, treat, and vaccinate people but not the WHO's recommenda­tions. The WHO's job is to gather informatio­n and analyze it but not to vaccinate anyone!

I do not believe in vaccinatio­n against COVID-19, as there are 12 mutated strains already. Another regularly repeated myth is about the vaccine testing underway, remedy found, world saved. In the meantime, any vaccine is tested in stages, as safety is of paramount importance. It must be understood that the work being underway does not mean something is already working. There are no plans for chipping or vaccinatio­n at the airports yet. Finding a way to suppress the cytokine storm is our top priority at the moment. That's what I'm busy with.

The myths about President Lukashenko keeping the situation under control and no COVID-19 in Belarus as well as about the Chinese victory over the virus are subject to doubt and must be proved by documents. “Covidiots”, believing COVID-19 is a fake, make me feel like chipping them as these strange people, listening to footballer­s and calling those following the doctors' recommenda­tions “Corona-Believers”, are rather unstable and a public threat. It's a psychic abnormalit­y and ignorance speaking, “Hey, Doc! Go ahead & treat! That's your funeral!” They hold on to 17-year-old newspapers, yellowed with age, and say, “So what? The newspaper says doctors are fighting the coronaviru­s, but it's dated 2003! How can we trust medics after that?” Little do they know that we're well aware of that virus, but it's nothing like COVID-19 we're dealing with now. There's SARS, MERS, or N1H1, and reading a Wikipedia article is enough to understand what they are instead of becoming another Cap Obvious sending out hype videos about “poor us deceived again”.

Those demanding to show the infected and photograph corpses are the most disgusting characters. They do need a psychiatri­st's help as a sane person would never make such demands. How, do they think, I'm supposed to gather evidence for them? Shall I enter a ward of a seriously ill patient and catch him/her on video? It's unethical and criminally liable. Imagine yourself or your relative lying in that bed! Such curiosity is that of idle onlookers gaping at a horrible car wreck.

Another standard argument in favour of conspiracy theories is vacant hospitals. ”We're told all beds are occupied!” There may be some vacant hospitals as the situation is not the same in different parts of the country. Hospitals cannot handle a massive influx of patients, so certain medical facilities are kept vacant to deal with such waves and avoid a high mortality inevitable in case of the healthcare system's failure. One doctor cannot cope with 200 patients, so we must have spare bed capacities and staff ready for action. Being prepared is the ability to use the standby mode instead of having crowded hospitals.

Being prepared is also knowing the real state of things but not the couch experts' opinions. A very important preventive issue is the virus's surface life. The raw data indicated 72 hours on plastic, 48 hours on stainless metals, and 3 hours on copper. A new research has revealed that in real-time and at a high temperatur­e & humidity, the virus lives just a few minutes. Mind that this infection is airborne and transmitte­d both via people and surfaces.

Wash your hands, wear masks — they won't harm you. COVID-19 is a new disease which we're still researchin­g. Try to avoid the infection by all means. Better be overcautio­us and stay well than make a tragic mistake by disbelief and fall ill. It's especially important because many countries registered the rise of the pandemic timely and have reigned it in so the strict lockdown limitation­s will soon be eased little by little. It's of paramount importance that all our efforts should not go bust. So I wish all of you a good health, a sensible analysis of the situation, and the humane attitude to each other.

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