Doing Well in a World with COVID-19

Published: May 29, 2020

Taking a Walk

As more research is coming in on the coronavirus, now is a good time to update some of my views. In today's article, I'll discuss the following:

  1. Optimizing immunity.
  2. New research on COVID-19 treatment.
  3. Sanity and social distancing.
  4. How you can easily get $850 a week of government assistance in 15 minutes — even if you made less than $100 last year.

Thriving in a World with COVID-19

Ready to separate truth from nonsense? Let's look at what the research and common sense are suggesting.

Optimizing Immunity

Even if you're in a room full of people, including a number of people infected with coronavirus, only about a third of people are likely to catch it. And only about half of those who do catch it will develop significant symptoms. That's roughly 17% at risk even in a relatively contagious scenario. So a prudent precaution would be to take steps to keep your immune system optimized so that you improve your odds of being in that "80% safe group." Fortunately, the immune dysfunctions present in CFS and fibromyalgia so far do not seem to increase the risk. We are not seeing more cases of COVID-19 in our CFS and fibromyalgia population.

So how do you optimize immunity?

  1. Nutritional support. Especially important are:
    • Zinc 15 mg a day. This is critical. Zinc is likely the most important single nutrient for immunity.
    • Vitamin D 1,000-5,000 units a day. The epidemiology research shows dramatic benefits from this.
    • Vitamin C 500 mg a day.
    • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). This is what your body uses to make glutathione, which keeps your immune system from damaging you while fighting infections.

All of these can be found in combination in the Energy Revitalization System™. I recommend this for everyone. I also recommend Vectomega® 1-2 tablets daily. This omega-3 support is equivalent to 7-14 regular fish oil pills. It decreases the tendency to excessive clotting.

  1. Sleep. Improving sleep is critical for balancing immunity. I begin with:
    • Melatonin 5 mg a day. This also has antioxidant and immune benefits on its own.
    • Revitalizing Sleep Formula. This mix of six herbs is excellent for sleep.
    • Hemp Select™ 3-5 capsules at night. This has numerous health benefits including sleep, pain relief, and helping mood.
  1. Feeling Safe. Being in a chronic state of panic is both unhealthy for your immunity, and unwarranted given the current situation. Rather, informed caution is in order. So limit the amount of news on coronavirus you read and watch.
  1. My two favorite herbals for immunity are Andrographis EP80™ 200 mg twice a day and/or Elderberry 300 mg a day.

What I Take to Support Immunity

  1. Energy Revitalization System™ and Vectomega® 1 daily.
  2. Melatonin, Revitalizing Sleep Formula, and Hemp Select™ for sleep.
  3. Elderberry 300 mg a day or Andrographis EP80™ 200 mg twice a day. If I were to have symptoms, I would increase the Elderberry to 300 mg twice a day and the andrographis to 400 mg twice daily.

New Research on COVID-19 Treatment

Medical Treatments:

  1. Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and azithromycin (Zithromax). Although I was an early strong proponent of these based on the research at the time, it's important to recognize new research that's coming out. Unfortunately, because the virus has been politicized, much of this research is being misrepresented. So here is what we know:
    • Using high dose Plaquenil (2-3 times the dose that I recommend) in people hospitalized with the virus does pose a risk of abnormal heart rhythms, so only the lower dose should be used (200-400 mg twice a day the first day, followed by 200 mg twice a day for five days). Higher doses do not add benefit and only increase the risk. Especially in the 20% of people who are hospitalized and have heart damage from the virus (diagnosed with a blood test such as the troponin level).
    • Unfortunately, the early retrospective studies have been misrepresented. They need to separate out the results of the excessively high dose treatment group from the standard dosing. It is also important to recognize that those receiving treatment have routinely been a much sicker group than the ones they were compared to. So they would be expected to have a higher death rate even if the treatment is beneficial. Kind of like doing a study on outcomes when the fire engines are called for a fire. This is usually where the fires are more severe. So you will have more damage than people who simply had roast burning in the oven who didn't call the fire department.
    • What's important is to await the research from studies using it early in the disease at the lower dosing that I've recommended. This is the main area, early in infection and viral replication, where the initial research suggested that it could be helpful. Especially when combined with zinc 50 mg a day
  2. Remdesivir. This intravenous antiviral shows some promise and is reasonable to use in people that are hospitalized. I suspect that because this company is a major media advertiser, as well as future employer for people in academia, its reception is much warmer than would otherwise be expected based on the research so far.
  3. More research is needed on likely very helpful low-cost natural treatments including IV vitamin C, IV glycyrrhizin, thymulin, and a host of other potential treatments. Unfortunately, being low cost, these studies are less likely to be conducted in the United States. Although they are being studied in China.

Social Distancing — Some Common Sense  

The current thinking is that coronavirus is more often caught by being aerosolized and breathing it in rather than by touching surfaces with the virus. But it's still prudent to take reasonable cautions for both. For example, not everybody needs to be wearing the mask every minute. But if you are in an enclosed space, it is reasonable to be wearing it as a courtesy to others. So if you have the virus, you are less likely to put it into the common air in the building.

When you're outside, the breeze tends to blow the virus away and keeps it from accumulating and concentrating in the air. When I go for walks on the hiking trail each morning, I don't wear a mask, nor are most of the other people on the trail. If they were, I would wear the mask just to be courteous. On the other hand, if I'm in a supermarket or other enclosed space, or where there are a lot of people, I wear a mask to be considerate of others. Whether or not it's necessary.

As far as the lockdown we're all in, I lean towards opening things up sooner rather than later in areas where the virus is waning — but while using some common sense in doing so in a way that meets the needs of people on both sides of the debate. Younger healthy people who choose to go out more, and are not living with people over 60 years old, can reasonably do so. Yes, this would result in infection counts going up. But this group is at relatively low risk of the infection being serious. It makes sense for them to begin developing the herd immunity that will eventually be needed for everybody to safely come off lockdown. Those who prefer to stay indoors can. But they should appreciate those going out and taking the risk in creating the herd immunity that will eventually be necessary.

Remember, the lockdown's main purpose wasn't to decrease the death toll. Just to delay it — to spread it out over time — so we wouldn't overwhelm the healthcare system, and to give time for more research to come out.

Meanwhile, I would encourage the opening of restaurants in places where the seating can be moved outside and allow reasonable spacing. This poses a much smaller risk than a large number of people being in a small enclosed space, while also decreasing the number of restaurants that go bankrupt.

Going for walks outside is just fine. The viral particles don't build up in the air, as the breeze blows them away. Similarly, being in large buildings like a supermarket that's not packed is safer than being in a small restaurant full of people for an hour.

So, go out for walks in the sunshine. Just avoid spending a lot of time in small rooms with large numbers of people you don't know who might have the infection.

Meanwhile, when out and about avoid touching things that many people have likely touched. For example, at the supermarket I wipe down the shopping cart handle with an alcohol swab and bag my own groceries at the self-checkout.

How You Can Easily Get $850 a Week in 15 Minutes

Many of you who aren't able to work have still been getting small bits of income here and there. In the past, only people who were employees and filed a W-2 qualified for unemployment insurance. With COVID-19 that has changed. Even if you earned as little as $100 during 2019, and even if you were self-employed, you may now qualify for unemployment insurance if your income has been affected by COVID-19.

Say you made $500 last year on odd jobs where you had to leave the house, or that you did from home. And now, because of the immune dysfunction with fibromyalgia, you're too uncomfortable to leave home to interact with others. Or maybe the demand for your services has gone down because of the virus.

You may now be eligible for $600 a week plus whatever your state's weekly minimum unemployment payment is. Where I live, that's a total of about $850 a week. So say your income went down from $500 last year to $200 projected for 2020 as the economy went down. You can still apply for this approximately minimum $850 per week. Even if you don't have documentation of your income, you'll usually still qualify for this minimum amount. On the application, you would simply need to check the box that says your drop in income was COVID-19 related (again, your reason for income loss can be as simple as you're too afraid to go out to work where other people are, or that demand for your work has dropped).

The application form is really quite simple and will likely take you less than 30 minutes to complete. You can also get back-payments from the day your income dropped because of COVID-19. PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) provides an additional $600 a week of benefits backdated for weeks of unemployment or underemployment beginning on or after March 29, 2020. You can apply online through your state's unemployment office website. But be sure to look for the PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) application, and not the regular unemployment insurance unless you had been receiving a W-2.

For more information, do an internet search on "pandemic unemployment assistance" along with the name of your state. For example, here's the PUA for COVID-19 in Massachusetts. This page has useful overall information, but you need to look up the application for the specific state that you live in. Many people who had jobs making even just $20 a week on average are finding that they are now getting $800 a week or more through this program. And since it is retroactive, they are often starting with payments over $5,000.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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