Here’s the good and bad news about the coronavirus. Just over a week ago a patient in Germany contracted the virus from a Shanghai resident who was not ill and had recently visited Germany and that patient then passed it on to three other co-workers who at time of writing this segment have yet to become unwell. After initially manifesting a sore throat, chills and muscle pain followed the next day by fever and a cough, after 24 hours the patient dramatically improved, so much so that he was able to return to work a day later. This means that the person sitting next to us on public transport or even our work colleagues could be a reservoir of infection but for most of us the illness will not be lethal or even severe. Exposure to someone who coughs or sneezes and is incubating the virus, which occurs over a 14-day period or even possibly touching a surface where the virus is present and then touching our faces, although this is unconfirmed, form the major routes for contagion.
To date more than 20,000 people worldwide have a documented coronavirus infection and there have been 414 reported deaths, numbers that are being revised daily. Most of these fatalities have occurred in patients over the age of 60 who have other pre-existing medical conditions and only one has been recorded outside of China, but that was a 44-year-old Chinese national, who travelled from Wuhan to the Philippines. However, as much as the vulnerable are more susceptible to succumbing, this coronavirus, a cousin of the SARS infestation which in the early 2000’s claimed the lives of 1 in 10 who were infected, has the potential to morph into an epidemic with potentially virulent consequences. Health experts suggest that this infestation is in its infancy and that it could metastasize into a significant international problem with advised travel restrictions underpinning this forecast.
While conventional advice includes devotion to hand washing, wearing protective masks and limiting public proximity Immune Apocalypse details the many strategies that can be adopted to fortify our defences and make our immune systems potentially impregnable.