Coronavirus, avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome and the relationship to COVID-19

The World Health Organisation stated that 80% of people who will be infected with Coronavirus Disease 19 (CoVID-19) will recover without specialist treatment. The 20% who do require medical intervention are more likely to recover, if they have a robust constitution ie are reasonably well and fit. Remember, there are always exceptions to the rules and healthy people are dying. For those, whom sadly will never recover, many are afflicted by pre-existing chronic and often fatal illnesses. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, organ issues and the like that, have high mortally rates on their own. Smoking, diabetes, addictions, poor diet and lack of fitness compounds the issues. Thus, the best line of defence against illness, including CoVID-19 is simple.

Eat what mother nature grows and yes, mother nature grew the Bulla ice cream that I’m eating. Yes that is a plastic container but I’m going to reuse it as an indoor compost caddy, when Amani eats it all. On a serious note, I eat and drink whatever I like but predominantly, in SMALL quantities. Fresh fruit and veggies are my preference. However, dried frozen, canned and bottled are good choices too. Add animal products if that’s your flavour. Grains such as rice, couscous and polenta and/or cereals, such as bran, oats and corn. Oil in small quantities preferably polyunsaturated, think olive. General rule of thumb is “if it came from mum it just be yum”!

Most importantly, appreciate yourself like you do a “love crush”. Tell yourself what you would tell them, if you ever had the nerve. As you know, practice makes permanent, so tell yourself often. Finally, waiting for impending doom to provide the impetus to care for yourself isn’t great, but you know what, sometimes it’s good enough. Better late than never!

What symptoms should one be alert too?

Typical cold and flu symptoms. I’m currently afflicted with hayfever due to the dusty environments that I’m in. Hayfever is NOT a symptom. Neither is a hang over. What is abnormal for you? Coughing, fever, muscular aches, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches. However, many people will have the virus but will be asymptomatic ie display no symptoms. Remember CoVID-19 is one of many issues that humanity is afflicted by, all the other health issues still exist. Make no mistake, STRESS is the biggest killer in the world and is responsible for road rage, sick days, homicide, suicide, depression, anxiety and it’s all underpinned by fear. Thus, be calm and be intelligent, the latter of which has nothing to do with cleverness and schooling. It’s about listening to the inner voice that is always right. The dominant foghorn that governs your life, is often wrong. Learn to turn it off.

Ok so what’s all the fuss about? What is a Coronavirus

Al-Sail and Al-Wazzah, (2017) state that a Coronavirus was identified in the 1960s as a cause of the common cold and “is a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus 1 that is a spherical shape with bear’s club-shaped glycoprotein [hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) (Yoon et al., cited in Yu et al., 2017)] projections” (pg 3), that crown (corona) the external surface of the virus. When an antigen (virus, bacteria) enters the body, the immune system detects the anomaly and tries to eradicate it. Part of the process includes producing antibodies that will specifically target that particular antigen should it ever reappear. This of course requires time and prior to being detected, an antigen can interact with and change a cells glycoproteins to gain entry into the cell, replicating itself and causing harm to the very thing that keeps it alive, the host. It was thought that coronaviruses were relatively harmless until the 2002/2003 pandemic that arose out of Guangdong China, when it was realised the virus could become virulent and lethal (Al-Sail & Al-Wazzah, 2017).

Coronavirus subtypes

Currently there are 4 known coronavirus subtypes, alpha, beta, gamma and delta, with many serotypes (glycoproteins), that affect humans, bats, whales, pigs, birds, cats, dogs and mice (Saif; Galtney Junior; Tyrel and Myint; Woo et al., de Souza et al., cited in Al-Sail & Al-Wazzah, 2017). Unfortunately for us humans, coronaviruses are transmitted via airborne respiratory outputs such as saliva from animals to humans (zoonotic) and, human to human. The virus infiltrates the ciliated epithelium in the lungs (Mailes et al.; Bucholtz et al., cited in Al-Sail & Al-Wazzah, 2017) and an immune response is launched. Think of a normal pimple, red and sore with a white head. The red inflammation is an increase of white blood cells to the area, which contains a pharmacy of good stuff to fight the infection. That’s why pimples have a white head.

Symptoms – what if you have none

A person may have a virus but have no symptoms. No pimples, think actors in their 20s and 30s playing teenagers …. flawless complexion. New South Wales Premier as advised by the State’s Chief Medical Officer state the virus is still contagious, which is why social distancing is imperative. My stance is be intelligent and know how to act accordingly.

Common cold symptoms

People with the common cold symptoms, think a few pimples across the bridge of the nose, not the end of the world. You are contagious and have express permission to be selfish. The infection will be located in the upper respiratory tract, so the lymph nodes in the throat should be able to mount an appropriate response and take care of the infection. Take whatever is required to treat a common cold. I use vaporub and make a lemon or lime drink with honey. Sometimes I’ll have orange juice and eat mandarins, oranges and tomatoes. Anything with vitamin C. Monitor yourself to ascertain whether you’re improving or worsening. If you’re getting better on your own, great!

Boohoo it’s the flu!

Influenza symptoms, think acne, means that the infection has moved deeper into the lungs and, requires pharmaceutical or natural medicine intervention, which require expert dispensation. Overdosing on medication can be fatal, so follow the instructions. Also, be aware that viruses can be resistant to medication, so be vigilant because once the infection moves deeper into the lung parenchyma (the alveoli (air sacs), where gas exchange occurs ie oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide) (Jain et al.; Kuiken T, Taubenberger; Mauad et al., cited in Unkel et al., 2012), due to viral replication, it can progress quickly to pneumonia (Unkel et al., 2012).

Ooh and aah, its pneumonia

Pneumonia, think hormonal acne at it’s worst, often results in severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), due to damage to the alveoli, causing hypoxia (inadequate oxygen to the tissues) and possibly lung failure (Al-Sail and Al-Wazzah, 2017). Pneumonia is highly infectious (Steele et al., 2013) and is prevalent amongst those with a depressed immune system, including but not limited to the elderly, people with and being treated for cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), organ issues, gastrointestinal issues (Hill et al., 2013). Lucky people receive oxygen treatment, so now is a good time to learn how to take a full deep breath that fills the pelvis and then the chest. It calms the mind because one can’t concentrate focus on breathing and thinking. Try it!

What is CoVID-19?

CoVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV 2) (Redfearn, 2020), a new strain of virus (Potter cited in Hill et al., 2016) that can be concocted in a laboratory (Lipsitch et al., 2012; Patterson et al., 2013) or mutates naturally every 10 to 50 years (Potter cited in Hill et al., 2016). Thus, the immune system doesn’t recognise it, so it can freely replicate itself and cause irreparable harm.

What’s the relationship to bird flu?

The Avian (bird) flu caused havoc in both bird and human populations at the turn of the century, from 1996 to 2010 (Yu et al., 2017). The dominant strain at this time was H5N1, which mutated into subtypes H5N2, H5N6 and H5N8. The latter two have spread throughout China and, the H5N6 subtype is fatal to humans (Yu et al., 2017). Hill et al., (2016) report that as expected, older birds develop immunity to known antigens. However, immunity drives the emergence of new strains with new glycoprotein receptors that avoid detection. This is evident in humans with the annual influenza viruses, in particular A, HIV-1 and norovirus (causes short term gastrointestinal problems) and, why COVID-19 is an issue.

Much ado about the brew

Scientists have been preparing governments against flu pandemics for many years (Rappuoli & Dormitzer, 2012) and there are approximately 1500 level 3 (biosecurity level 3 – BSL-3) laboratories in the USA and thousands more globally and just 24 level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories globally (Patterson et al., 2013) looking for answers. The difference is that BSL-4 laboratories conduct research “for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of life-threatening disease, which may be transmitted via the aerosol route and for which there is no available vaccine or therapy” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cited in Patterson et al., 2013). Ebola and small pox are good examples of level 4 virulent pathogens and there are only a couple of laboratories globally for each. Examining the criteria, influenza research also fit the BSL-4 criteria yet it’s studied in BSL-3 laboratories. There is a greater level of expertise in BSL-4 laboratories, which due to the nature of the research, understandably are more rigorously and more regularly scrutinised. Thus, both Lipsitch and Patterson and their respective colleagues advocate for BSL-4 laboratories to conduct influenza research, especially after Herst et al., Imai et al., (cited in Patterson et al., 2013) funded by the United States National Institute of Health, successfully created a mammalian respiratory transmissible H5N1 virus in ferrets, publishing their results in 2012. Neither Patterson or Lipsitch fault Imai and Herst’s research but as knowledge is freely available, they recognise the potential for malevolent concoction of a virus and it being deposited into the human population. I’m not contending that’s what’s occurred and the horse has already bolted. Microbiology laboratories globally are racing for answers to combat COVID-19.

The scientists need to know how this virus evolved, we the masses need to live with it and the consequences. Past pandemics has demonstrated that segregation is warranted to prevent contagion. Hence why isolation is now the new black. This is the world I prayed for once ….. Finally, vindication for the loners such as myself! However, I’m no longer bothered by people and I’m happy to chat to and integrate with people. Except the world is currently empty …. Irony at it’s best!

Fear – do i care!

Like Simba said, before being frightened by the hyenas in Lion King, “I laugh in the face of danger”. On a serious note, I live in complete confidence as I’ve faced all my fears. Whenever a challenge arises, such as not being able to celebrate my eldest sons 21st birthday yesterday with his father because of strict hospital visitation rules, coupled with eating ordinary food from a South Melbourne cafe/restaurant, who have no excuse in providing substandard fare, as business is quiet. This current climate is the opportunity for people to produce quality because cafes and restaurants have a lot more time than usual. Walking home I was disappointed but there are people with no doors to close and no food to eat, so I surrendered and accepted what was. Not what I had idealised for many years but it is what it is!

Have I have been living differently since COVID-19. No. I’m a minimalist and buy what I need. Although, I have been shopping regularly because where I’m currently staying there’s a tiny fridge and, I’m used to a family sized fridge so I can shop for more less often. I always carry hand sanitiser and I wash and moisturise my hands regularly anyway. Normally, I have long finger nails but I cut them myself, which I haven’t had to do for 2 years. I clean as per normal. Although, I have bought a new steam cleaner because where I’m staying is very dusty which has triggered hayfever. I could have taken pharmaceutical drugs but that’s not normal for me. Besides they mask not fix the problem.

Educate yourself

Governmental statistics are readily available in most first world countries which provides a good insight into the number of deaths attributed to illness. When you start making comparisons with COVID-19 statistics you’ll understand why I’m calm. My science education trained me to discern between the quality of information and it’s how I manage to avoid gimmicks. I can question the validity of information and generally make up my own mind.

I sourced the articles that I used to write this article with my free State Library of Victoria membership. I can access the library globally, all I need is an internet connection. I left out much of the geek speak because for those that are interested they can access the information for themselves. However, I would recommend people learn what the geeks say and make informed choices. Yes the language is complicated but you get used to it. People are busy so I understand why that wouldn’t work. However, alot of people’s time has been freed up so that is no longer a pertinent excuse.


Al-Osail, A.M., and Al-Wazzah, M.J. (2017). The history and epidemiology of Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine, 12(1). DOI: 10.1186/s40248-017-0101-8

Hill, S.C., Manvell, R.J., Schulenburg, B., Shell,3W., Wikramaratna, P.S., Perrins, C., Sheldon,B.C., Brown, I.H., and Pybus, O.G. (2016). Antibody responses to avian influenza viruses in wild birds broaden with age. Proceedings Biological Sciences, 283(1845), 20162159. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2159

Rappuoli, R., and Dormitzer, P.R. (2012). Influenza: Options to Improve Pandemic Preparation, Science, 336(6088), 1531-1533.

Steel, H.C., Cockeran, R., Anderson R., and Feldman, C. (2013). Overview of community-acquired pneumonia and the role of inflammatory mechanisms in the immunopathogenesis of severe pneumococcal disease. Mediators of Inflammation, 2013. DOI:10.1155/2013/490346

Unkel, B., Hoegner, K., Clausen, B.E., Lewe-Schlosser, P., Bodner, J., Gattenloehner, S., Janßen, H., Seeger, W., Lohmeyer, J., and Herold, S. (2012). Alveolar epithelial cells orchestrate DC function in murine viral pneumonia. The Journal of clinical investigation, 122(10), 3652-64. DOI: 10.1172/JCI62139

Yu, Y., Zhang, Z., Li, H., Wang, G., Li, B., Ren, G., Zeng, Z., Zhang, X., Liu, S., Hi, P., Qi, W., and Liao, M. (2017). Biological Characterizations of H5Nx Avian Influenza Viruses Embodying Different Neuraminidases. Frontier Microbiology, 8(1084). doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01084

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