Coronavirus…Amidst the conundrum and the chaos. Daily musings of an ID Doc. March 21, 2020

When I got my driver’s license, my father gave me an advice that I have not forgotten since and might be appropriate in these times of multiple readily available, unverifiable reports about the virus, it’s transmission, purported treatment, etc.

It goes like this: “Don’t go to an auto mechanic with clean fingernails.”

Basically, what he meant was go to an expert in their field, they know their stuff. That being said, it is incumbent upon us medical professionals to read up and study on our respective fields as people rely on us for information. We can not propagate a false lead on something published but has not been validated and peer reviewed like the report that certain blood types protect one from or make one more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 or on something published in a not so refutable site.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the virus is how long does it last outside a host. An elegantly written study by van Doremalen, et al from NIAIID, NIH on a correspondence published on March 17, 2020, at NEJM.org makes for compelling read. They evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 (causative organism for COVID19) and SARS-CoV-1 (implicated in SARS) in aerosols and on various surfaces and estimated their decay rates. Their data consisted of 10 experimental measurements in five environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard). Both viruses remained viable in aerosols for 3 hours, on copper for 4 hours, on cardboard for 24 hours, on stainless steel for 48 hours, and on plastic for 72 hours.

Wash your hands and then wash them some more.

Salute, Team Beinte Uno.

NB: My dad has an extra finger, a benign medical condition called polydactyly or hyperdactyly, and is fondly called in our village in the Philippines as Beinte Uno or Twenty One as in The One with Twenty One Digits. My siblings and I always refer to our family as Team Beinte Uno. I will have to politely ask my dad if it takes him a little bit longer to wash his hands.

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