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I have gotten a number of questions about COVID and what makes it different from the flu. People are asking about ventilators and how they work, and what to expect moving forward.

Those are great questions and it is with a heavy heart that I write this update today.

COVID is not your typical virus and the United States was not properly prepared for the effects of it. The information that was released from other countries was “censored” and did not allow us to fully understand the implications to our nation and the health of our citizens.

In the last week as major cities have reacted to the influx of sick, it has become clear that we are not dealing with an ordinary flu virus.  Healthcare workers, nurses, and physicians, had no idea what they would be asked to do or that they would be asked to do it with little to no personal protection for themselves.

In this particular battle, the learning curve will be steep and our hindsight will be 20/20. My only hope is that you take this information to heart and urge those that you love to stay at home. We can all do our part to keep ourselves safe and reduce the number of unnecessary deaths that will result from this.

How is COVID-19 different?

Healthcare workers are beginning to realize that this is not just another flu. This virus acts quickly and rapidly to bring a person to Intensive Care status.

So, what makes COVID 19 different than any other flu virus our immune system has ever encountered?

  • We have no natural immunity, there has never been another virus that acts like this that our bodies have created antibodies for. This means that we have little to no resiliency.
  • It is highly infectious about 1,000x more infectious than your typical flu.

Reports coming in from healthcare workers suggest going from 15 breaths per minute which is regular breathing to 30 breaths per minute within a matter of hours. Greater than 30 breaths per minute suggests Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (SARS).

It acts quickly and rapidly to damage lung tissue. The little balloons in the lower lungs break down and start leaking fluid and blood. The little balloons and then the entire lung fills up with pink fluid and it displaces the oxygen. Humans need the oxygen to stay alive. At that point, a person is put on a ventilator in an attempt to save their life.

How Does a Ventilator Work?

A ventilator pushes air into the lung in an attempt to oxygenate the body when a person’s lungs have failed. There are no guarantees and the success rate is 50%. The ventilator does not fight the virus it simply provides life-saving oxygen to the person while their body fights the virus. Again, there is about a 50% success rate. Ventilation is not without risks and the longer a person is on a ventilator the harder recovery generally is. The recovery process involves short term memory loss and confusion, muscle wasting, vocal cord injury, agitation, and mood disorders. Reports from other countries are not reliable and COVID patients can require ventilation for weeks.

Healthcare workers with experience in respiratory care units are reporting that COVID19 patients require ventilators working at maximum capacity. Imagine a radio with the volume turned up full blast. At some point, it can’t go any louder. The same goes for the ventilators used on COVID patients, they are turned up to maximum volume and can’t pump any more air.

Requiring a ventilator is something that is typically done in an intensive care unit. When you hear the news reports of New York City needing 30,000 ventilators you start to understand the absolute chaos within our healthcare system of managing 30,000+ people in ICU at any given time. Ventilated people need to have a tube inserted into their windpipe. This requires, sedation, medication, and regular adjustments. This presents an around the clock never ending burden on healthcare workers.

Emerging data suggests that 1 in every 3 people who acquire COVID will require ventilation. (I really hope this is wrong)

In Italy, when supplies were scarce, they only used the ventilators on people younger than 60 years old. Younger people, in theory, have a greater chance of survival. Europeans have reported turning ventilated patients onto their abdomens as a way to help increase the survival rate. Gravity would pull fluids away from lung tissue in an attempt to enhance oxygenation. Data from hospitals and healthcare workers is slowly emerging with each passing week.

What has become clear is that the American healthcare system was not properly prepared or briefed in exactly what this virus was, the actual impact to human health and how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, many healthcare workers will lose their lives over this pandemic.

COVID-19 is a virus that causes SARS and it should not be taken lightly.

People should be respecting the voluntary/involuntary self-quarantines that may be state imposed. Even if you live in a state where there is no mandate you should be seriously thinking about where you go and limiting it to only essential functions all the while taking personal hygiene recommendations seriously.

This threat is in no way going to disappear soon. The United States is facing a long steep uphill climb to get over this challenge. We will get through this challenge and we will overcome. It is going to take as long as it needs to take. It will not be a quick fix. The only question is how are you going to adjust to it? Join me on my next LIVE webinar as we cover the TOP 5 things you must be doing over the next 90 days. (CLICK HERE to Register)

Wishing you and your loved ones well,

Dr. Purcell
(Catch up on my daily COVID-19 posts HERE)

P.S. Now more than ever it is important to stay connected. Opt-in below to receive my bi-weekly emails. These emails will keep you up to date on the current pandemic. I will continue to share current health updates and tips. We are in this together!
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