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  • drmijunglee

Dealing with COVID-19 Together

As of March 9th, 2020

The trend in South Korean where vigorous testing has confirmed new positive cases every day since Jan 20, has finally made its downturn today. In the U.S. a lack of test availability seems to underestimate COVID-19 positive cases compared to mortality rate. Given statistics of 0.06% mortality rate from S. Korea, with more testing, we’d expect to see closer to 500 confirmed cases in King county, instead of the current 116, and 3000 nationwide instead of 500. However, in the U.S. as testing becomes more widespread, we expect more confirmed cases to follow. So, brace yourself.

From Personal Health to Public Health

Healthy young people with COVID-19 can experience very minimal symptoms, or even none, yet they can spread the virus to their family, friends, and co-workers. By any means, it is important to stay isolated and minimize person-to-person contact at a time like this, in addition to practicing a diligent level of handwashing. Responding to a pandemic like COVID-19 is not only protecting yourself but also protecting others to prevent spreading, minimize mortality, and shorten infectious period. In most pandemics, it is more likely that a person spreads the virus and causes someone else’s death than dies from the virus. So be responsible, whether you are healthy or not, by strictly following general guidelines from reliable resources such as the CDC. No one can survive alone and this is the time to grasp this communal aspect of public health.

Virus in a perspective: “Don’t burn the house to catch a fly”

Viruses and humans have never been separated. In fact, it is said that 40% of the human genome is of viral origin. Perhaps many millions of years ago, viruses made their way into the primordial genetic materials of our human ancestry. Microbiologically speaking, it is amply true that the human body is a habit for virus, bacteria, fugus, archaea and more unknowns. Our focus is on minimizing the damage: protect yourself and others, and it will pass. As in some apocalyptic scenario, there might be more people who would likely die from panic-driven human actions than the virus. Don’t be part of that apocalypse. Remain rational.

While medical scientists are working on discovery of new therapeutics

Currently, no cure is available for viruses behind the common cold or COVID-19. I have successfully used traditional Asian herbal formulas from a book called Treatise of Cold Damage Diseases, to manage symptoms of the cold and flu in my practice. Those formulas are getting attention in the discovery of COVID treatment through medical research. Treatise on Cold Damage Diseases (“ShangHan Lun”) is a medical book that is thought to be compiled by Dr. Zhang Zongjing sometime before 220 AD. This book talks about six stages of disease caused by “COLD” and proposes the principles of treatment and herbal prescriptions.

Selfcare and Supporting your immune function

When you are sick, it is most important to rest, hydrate, and get plenty of sleep. Please find viral illness selfcare ABCD below for what to do when you are sick. As a preventive approach, I make sure my patients’ Vitamin D3 level is sufficient and hormone levels are balanced as they are major players in the human immune system. For example, estrogen helps protect women from influenza virus by recruiting virus specific immune response in the lungs. Vitamin D effects on antimicrobial peptides and oxygen species to destroy intracellular viruses.

ABCD for COVID-19 Selfcare

A- Avoid person-to-person contact: the virus spreads from one person’s mouth to other mucosal membrane: mouth or nose or eyes. This virus isn’t transmitted through the air. If you are sick, wear a mask to contain your virus to yourself.

B- Be rested: stop working and worrying. Stay in bed and sleep as much as you can. Hydrate with water, herbal cold remedy teas, vegetable broth and other low sodium fluids.

C- Clean your hands and room: open the window and fresh air in once per day

D- Demarcate your boundary: Have others in your household stay away from you. Avoid eating with your family when you are sick.



  2. Traditional Chinese medicine for COVID-19 treatment, Pharmacology Research, May 2020, 104743

  3. J Virol. 2014 May; 88(9): 4711–4720.

  4. Eur J Med Res. 2016; 21: 14.

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