Written update today.
I want to take a moment to address something I’m calling “viral load”. It is part of the reason why the government is asking us all to stay away from other people.
A virus is very small, and millions can be contained in a very small sample, so I’m going to use arbitrary numbers to explain this.
Let’s say it takes a viral load of 5,000 to reach a crisis level that is dangerous and potentially deadly.
Scenario 1: You’re going along, and you end up in the presence of someone with the virus for 5 minutes, and you pick up 20 viruses. You’ve been exposed. The virus starts making copies of itself; each cycle doubles the number of viruses growing within your body. But around the time the virus has reproduced to about 100 viruses in your body, your immune system detects the presence of an enemy and launches into action. Your body’s immune response somewhat keeps up with the virus and slows the virus’s expansion within your body. You get sick, but your body is more easily able to prevent you from reaching a crisis level. If your body did nothing to stop the increase, it would take 10 generations of doubling to reach crisis level.
Scenario 2: You end up stuck around someone with the virus for an hour. Because of the prolonged exposure, you pick up 1,000 viruses. Your body immediately detects the danger and launches the immune system into action, but it is already significantly behind. Your immune response is unable to keep up with the growth of the virus – 1,000 becomes 2,000, then those 2,000 become 4,000, and within 3 generations you are at crisis level.
This shows the concept of limiting “viral load”. The less infection you pick up at the beginning, the better chance your body has to respond and limit the illness. The more time your body has to form an immune response can be critical in beating back a viral attack before it becomes critical.
I have been critical of the massive shutdown response to this virus, and it still remains to be seen what the true nature of this virus is. In Italy, several thousands have died. In Japan, with one of the oldest populations in the world, only 33 have died. Estimations in our country (USA) are either that it’s going to kill more than 8 million people, or it’s going to stop well short of 10,000. The youngest portions of the population seem to be practically immune, while our older population is incredibly susceptible.
No matter what the facts turn out to be, if you are exposed to the virus, in general you are better off exposed to a small number of viruses instead of a large number of viruses.
This is why the government is seeking to limit people’s exposure to each other. If we can create an environment where everyone exposed is exposed to a small amount of the virus, we give the human immune system more time to respond, and this should improve the outcomes overall.
I reiterate what I have said before – our high risk populations absolutely need to pursue social distancing and be cautious, utilizing things like curbside pickup and deliveries to reduce their potential exposure to this virus. And our lower-risk population should recognize our high risk population’s needs and do our best to help them out through this time of restriction.
Until next time, keep positive, keep your head up, and be kind to all.
Source of Japanese numbers: https://www.bing.com/covid