Why we’ll all have to start living with coronavirus

Ill at work
Other people’s germs. We also breathe them when they’re not there

It’s not exactly like we didn’t know it was coming. Or that we didn’t know coronavirus was going to be bad.

Pandemics have happened before – and they’ll happen again. Maybe bigger, maybe badder.

And we’ll be just as unprepared next time too, even if our experts guide us 100% right.

Because it’s not as if we’re waiting for a bus, Nature is unpredictable.

Pandemics like storms

Which makes pandemics are more like storms. They can come along anytime. There’s a tornado coming, better take shelter – because if we don’t, a lot of us could die.

So, OK. We go into lockdown, like into a storm cellar. Stay safe at home while disease rages all round us. Out of harm’s way, where a virus can’t touch us.

Except sometimes the storm doesn’t go away. It hangs around for longer than we anticipate. Days instead of hours. Longer than our food lasts. Longer than we can stand being cooped up in an enclosed space.

So what then?

It’s still dangerous out there, but we’ve got to get out.

But venture out and inevitably the storm gets us.

Just when you thought it was safe

Some of us are buffeted and drenched, but OK. Some of us are picked up by a gust and flung hundreds of metres, a bit bashed up, but also OK. And some of us get hit on the head by a flying roof tile, dead before we hit the ground. Not OK.

Yes, but we knew the odds. If we’d stayed in the storm cellar, it wouldn’t have happened.

Which becomes a trade-off between how long the storm lasts and how long before we go stir crazy.

Stay, or take your chances, maybe even die.

Stay or die: your choice

Same thing with lockdown. And there’s not a lot that medics or governments can do about it. Storms and pandemics don’t recognise they exist. Nor the moaners and whingers and know-it-all media either.

At the whim of Nature, storms and pandemics happen whenever the hell they like. And keep coming back whenever the hell they like too.

So all of a sardine you’re caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Exposed. At the mercy of the elements – or whatever viruses and bacteria happen to be present.

If it’s a storm, you maybe get blown around, drenched in the odd downpour, delayed getting home by floods or fallen trees.

If it’s a pandemic, it grabs you to whatever your level of resistance.

Chances of survival

Fit and healthy, you can maybe shrug it off. Down with depression, it shoves razors down your throat, flushes you hotter than a blast furnace, or sandbags you with the worst headache ever. Already under the weather, and it hits your lungs, every breath a last gasp. Obese or old, and you feel the Grim Reaper alongside with every second.

It all depends on your state of mind and resilience. And no doubt about it, some people can hype themselves out of it by sheer will power. Others succumb, even though they’re quite healthy – just not protected enough by the will to survive.

So what’s the right way to play it? Choose to self-isolate at home, or must the government force you?

One thing’s for sure – if you go out there and get hit by a roof tile, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.

And that’s the reality.

Nobody’s fault. People might play the blame game, except what’s the point if they wind up dead?

Which is of course, the question on everybody’s mind.

So when is it safe to go back into the Big Wide World? What happens now?

And how safe is it once you’re there?

The virus has a two-week incubation period, maybe longer – and lots of people display no symptoms, even if they’ve got it. Things might LOOK safe, but you could still be exposed.

We are all of us exposed anyway to each other, virus or not. An issue likely to be more top-of-mind now we’re conscious of how easily illness can spread.

Personal germ cloud

Though it’s invisible, each of us is followed around by our own personal cloud of microbes, good and bad, part of our individual microbiome. Unique to each of us, this cloud is as distinctive as a retina scan or fingerprint. Pinpoint enough to identify which one of us out of a roomful of people might be carrying live coronavirus.

This cloud doesn’t just follow us – it also lingers in places where we’ve been. Walk into a room after everyone has gone home and the residual cloud of each of them is still present and waiting for you.

Normally, that’s not a worry. But these times are not normal. Which means it’s perfectly possible, even though we observe every precaution and social distancing, that we pick up coronavirus from an empty room hours after anyone was ever there.

Did you flush the loo?

Uh huh. And the closest parallel to that is like leaving the toilet unflushed.

Ew, unhygienic, right? Who wants to use a toilet still full of germs and waste after somebody else has used it?

But that’s exactly what every room we live and work in is full of every day. Invisible airborne germs and waste – exhalations of the microbes and carbon dioxide other people have breathed out – waiting for us to breathe in.

Until now, it hasn’t been an issue. Or even something we think about. Unconsciously though, we recognise the possibility. The colds and flu that seems to go round everybody at the same time. Or more unpleasant and unwanted sicknesses like norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

Other people’s waste

How did we pick them up? From breathing in air laced with other people’s exhalations and microbiomes.

And right now, that’s a hygiene step we need to fix and quickly. Because we’re not that good at putting things into practice.

Back in the 1840’s, we learnt that hand washing was vital to reducing infections and keeping us safe. Fifteen years later we learnt that drinking water contaminated by sewage was also a cause of disease. And round about the same time we came to our senses that safe disposal of sewage itself was a major factor affecting our safety.

Today, thanks to coronavirus and nearly two hundred years later, we need to take the next step. Just like using the loo, to wash our hands and flush out the places we live and work in so they’re free from airborne germs every time after we’ve used them.

Bye bye coronavirus

It can be done too. The technology exists right now – all we have to do is use it.

Yes sure, we still need to be careful of each other. To practice social distancing, with gloves and masks where necessary to avoid spreading germs.

And now at last we can be rid of germs we never knew were a threat – the lingering invisible clouds that must finally go to make us really safe.

Coronavirus 2.0? It’s a hazard like cholera, typhoid and all the rest. But at least now we can handle it.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Two eye-opening drawbacks to wearing mask protection

Misery in a mask
Yes, you’ve covered your nose and mouth – but your eyes are unprotected

Actually, it’s not you that your face mask protects at all, is it?

It’s other people.

To prevent your exhalations, plus any coughs or sneezes, from getting out into the open air where others might breathe them in. Your exhaust.

A preventative, not a protective.

Your mask can’t really protect you anyway. Not even the highest level N97 mask, known here in the UK as the FFP3 – “FFP” for Filtering Face Piece, “3” to indicate maximum protection from viruses and bacteria.

Because it’s not just the moist tissue of your nose and mouth that Covid-19 might use to enter your body.

Vulnerable eyes

It’s your eyes. Constantly moistened by tears for lubrication. And linked to your nose directly by your tear ducts – Covid-19’s fast track entry to your respiratory system.

Yes, your mask does keep out the exhalations of others. The moist air particles directly from the lungs – and the globules of spit and mucus exploding with coughs and sneezes. These particles are fairly large and even an ordinary piece of cloth will stop them – protecting you, and the best protection you can provide for those around you.

Protection for others

Which should be why you’re wearing a mask in the first place – to prevent yourself from infecting others. You might be a carrier, or the virus may still be incubating – so nobody knows it’s there, not even you.

But Covid-19 itself is much smaller than any of these particles. A single virus might be as small as 0.3 microns, many thousand times smaller than a human hair. That’s way smaller than any filter your mask might have. Smaller even than the HEPA filters in many hospital HVAC systems.

So small in fact, that once it’s airborne, it’s so light it stays there. Remember those sand clouds from the Sahara desert? Grains of sand, right? Huge by comparison. Heavier than air, but borne 2,000 miles by strong wind directly from Africa to smother every car in the country with red grit and dust.

Always in the air around you

Covid-19 of course is very much smaller than that. Too light to come down – riding every swirl and eddy of air, possibly never descending at all. But looking for any surface to catch and cling onto – hair, skin, clothing – not just tables and floors.

AND, as we pointed out earlier, the moist tissue of your eyes. Swept regularly with tears across both retinas by your eyelids and down to your nose – a highly efficient way of invading your metabolism. Sure, these particles are small enough to get through your mask, but most of the time that cloth will keep out the larger and more dangerous ones.

Your eyes, unfortunately, have no such protection.

You need glasses

Not unless you’re also wearing a visor, or safety glasses. Which means the best protection of all might be a full-face motorcycle helmet with the visor down – not exactly practical when you’re walking round Tesco.

But check out the pictures of medical teams you see in the media. Notice that in high risk areas, every medic is wearing a face mask AND safety glasses – or in some cases, full body protection.

There is an upside however. Single particles are rarely able to invade through your eyes one at a time. They have to gang up together – say ten of them or more – to be able to do their dirty work. Unlikely unless they’re in a globule formed from a cough or sneeze, and then you’re vulnerable.

Keep your distance

And this is why social distancing makes so much sense. A good belly-wrenching sneeze might explode germs as far as 26 feet. Safe enough if everyone’s wearing face masks to protect nose and mouth – but much more of a hazard to uncovered eyes.

The biggest hazard of all though is ourselves. Because remember that other precaution about always washing our hands? Like it or not, we are always involuntarily touching our faces, an unconscious reflex we might do 3,000 times a day.

Touching our eyes is totally natural, but for Covid-19 it’s an accelerated highway to getting into our bodies. But put some glasses on, even those cheap plastic ones that workmen use, and you’ll be a lot better protected.

Stay safe and well – and don’t take chances.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Coronavirus: our massive price tag for bingeing antibiotics

Desolate girl
COVID-19 feels like the end of the world. But it doesn’t have to be.

Huh? Coronavirus and antibiotics? There’s no connection, right? Antibiotics have no effect on any kind of virus.

Absolutely right, they don’t. But how about the other way round?

Like, how come coronavirus – by which of course, we mean the COVID-19 strain currently ravaging the world – was able to happen in the first place?

A disaster waiting to happen

Forget about its origins, the way the world was going it was bound to happen anyway, sooner or later. It just needed an opportunity – then bingo! a raging pandemic. All thanks to our accelerating binge of antibiotics over the last fifty years.

OK, OK, it wasn’t antibiotics that triggered COVID-19 immediately. As David Attenborough quite rightly points out, it’s mainly because there’s too many of us human beings for the Earth to sustain – 7.8 billion right now, rocketing to a thundering 10 billion by 2056.

And because of those numbers, we’re facing a whole wodge of challenges – global warming, climate change, deforestation, vanishing animal and plant species, whole ecosystems being destroyed.

Plus now the latest disaster – coronavirus COVID-19.

And every single one of them directly attributable to antibiotics.

Killer life-savers make us fat

Wha…? Antibiotics save lives, right? They’re the backbone of modern medicine. How come?

Well back around 1950, when antibiotics started taking off as the medical miracle of the century, the world’s population was just 2½ billion. Back then, that was around the biggest number possible. The maximum amount of land was producing the maximum amount of food – there was simply no capacity to produce any more.

Until that is, farmers lucked on to using antibiotics as growth boosters. Around the beginning of the 50s, researchers discovered that feeding these life-saving medicines to animals caused them to grow bigger, faster. Spectacularly faster. A piglet weighing 3 pounds at birth for instance, could be a full 270 pounds and market ready in just six months.

And not just animals, humans too. “In 1955, a crowd gathered in a hotel ballroom to watch as feed salesmen climbed onto a scale; the men were competing to see who could gain the most weight in four months, in imitation of the cattle and hogs that ate their antibiotic-laced food. Pfizer sponsored the competition.” (New York Times, 8th March 2014).

Of course faster growth meant quicker money – and farmers were quick to latch on. Plus antibiotics boosted growth in PLANTS too, year on year pushing production capacity through the roof.

Which is why today, world consumption of antibiotics is 240,000 TONNES a year. Of which by far the bulk is used in agriculture – essential to producing the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that currently feed us.

Our overloaded planet – too many people

And all that food is essential to supporting the 7½ billion people that we have become since the 1950s. THREE TIMES the number that we were more than fifty years ago. Yet the world hasn’t got any bigger. Everything is produced off exactly the same land area as it was back then. It’s growth boosting on an industrial level – and antibiotics that made it possible.

Except that now, there’s too many of us. The Earth can’t sustain us all unless something gives. Another global war perhaps, or an asteroid smashing into us. Or a world-wide plague like the original Black Death to bring our numbers down.

Yeah, right. So against our densely populated cities with millions living in flats and tower blocks, people almost on top of each other, Nature chose COVID-19. Perfect

Bad, yes. And about to get worse as the virus really gets going. Think the figures in Europe and the US are bad? Wait for the untouched areas of Asia and Africa. Huge populations without the medical support of more developed countries, already challenged by AIDS, poverty and political instability. And of course, the many refugee camps.

Billions and billions and billions of people. None of whom could be on this Earth without the growth boosting sorcery of antibiotics. That’s one heck of a price tag.

And not the only one either.

Second pandemic

Antibiotics have already set ANOTHER pandemic on the go. Except it’s one we can’t see because it’s in slow motion.

Obesity.

You see, it’s not just animals that antibiotics fatten up fast. It’s humans too. But there’s a difference. That poor little pig we met earlier only lives for six months, then it gets eaten. Humans of course, go on for much longer. And because we live longer, we keep getting fatter and fatter.

That’s inevitable because there’s antibiotics in everything we eat. They’re in the animals that provide us meat, in the manure they make that fertilises food crops, in the ground water that seeps into our rivers, even in the water that comes out of our taps. So yes, we’re getting fatter and already two thirds of adults are regarded as clinically obese.

And obesity is a LONG term condition. It lasts a life-time. Bringing with it other conditions as it challenges the body more and more with the strain of carrying extra weight. Asthma, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and cancer are just some of effects we can look forward to – set to claim altogether 30 million of us, half the population of UK.

Third pandemic

There’s yet another pandemic looming too. Not a medical one, but a pandemic none the less. Brought on by the coronavirus itself already running amok the world over. By its effect on the economies of every country – the businesses shut down, the jobs lost, the huge cost of containing COVID-19 and paying out to compensate for it.

Poverty.

And the malnutrition that goes with it. The inevitable illness and death. More billions still.

Is it worth it?

From the Earth’s point of view, probably yes. If 5 billion of us are wiped out, there’s a chance it can return to normal. Everything back in the balance and David Attenborough will be happy.

From our point of view, who wants to die?

Not the end of the world

Well, we’re not dead yet. And there’s a good chance most of us will survive, despite COVID-19’s severity. It’s not the Black Death after all, we can get through this.

At which point we should dump antibiotics before they really are the death of us. Stop using them for everything and like the Earth, let our bodies return to normal.

No more miracle drugs?

Well here’s another surprise. Because when antibiotics stop working – and already so many of them are neutralised by antibiotic resistance – the one resource we can turn to that might do the job is viruses.

Specifically bacteriophages that eat harmful bacteria and even other viruses to return us back to health again.

You read that right, viruses.

Viruses to kill germs and make people healthy – our new medical miracles.

Oh yes, and just remember you read about it here first, on Back Off, Bacteria. Before it goes viral.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

MERS from camels: like bird flu meets norovirus

Camel girl
Not nice for animals, not nice for us – and it’s spreading

The word is “zoonotic”.

That’s a disease that jumps to us from animals.  Ebola is one, HIV is another. So is SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), remember that?

From birds, from monkeys, all kinds of living things.

None of them are nice.

Another coronavirus

And all of them have no cure when they first happen. People die, and the medics go into overdrive, looking for effective treatment.

Right now the alarm bells are ringing for MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), a new coronavirus thought to have started with bats and somehow transferred to camels.

Since first encountered in 2012, most cases have been in the Arabian peninsula – the camel connection.

The panic now is that it’s suddenly jumped to South Korea.  Which is of course the problem with all modern illnesses. A few hours on a Boeing and they could wind up anywhere.

Two in one

MERS is particularly nasty – a virus with two sets of symptoms for the price of one.

Like most respiratory illnesses, it feels like flu – fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The unwanted bonus is like norovirus – nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If complications set in, pneumonia and kidney failure follow. And of course, dehydration. 3 – 4 out of every 10 who catch it die – a mortality rate of one-third.

Not to be played with. So if ever there was a spur to tighten up personal hygiene, this is it. Even camels can succumb to lack of fluids.

A good stimulus is to remember that schoolboy chestnut, “beware the camel spits.”

MERS is catching

Right there is one of the ways that MERS transmits – though the air from someone coughing or sneezing. Droplets from any kind of body fluid are a real danger.

The other way would be cuddling up to a camel, or someone unlucky enough to have MERS.

And not even a cuddle – a handshake will do it, or even borrowing a pen to sign something.

Touch your mouth, nose or eyes after that – and most of us do it 3,000 times a day – and you could already be at risk.

Hidden threat

You see, you can’t tell someone has MERS when it starts. It takes around ten days for the symptoms to show themselves. (Tweet this) The downer is that it’s contagious all of that time.

During which you’ve caught the plane, done your sales meeting, enjoyed the celebratory banquet, flown home again – and been in time for your daughter’s stage debut in the school ballet. So how many people did you glad-hand in that little jaunt?

Wash Hands LogoPersonal hygiene

You got it – wash your hands at every opportunity. Before food, after the loo – and whenever you can after touching somebody or something from outside your usual circle of living.

The other defence is to safeguard your immediate environment.

Not the great outdoors of course, but the enclosed spaces we all share – lots of us all together, moving in the same space, using the same things, breathing the same air – at work, at school, at places where we eat and relax.

Sterilised surroundings

HypersteriliserBefore we get there, all viruses and bacteria that may be present are destroyed with a Hypersteriliser. A fine mist of hydrogen peroxide plasma penetrates everywhere and actively oxidises them to nothing. So when we walk in through the door, the place is sterile.

Two defences – against a two-faced virus with serious implications if we don’t keep watchful.

Get lost, MERS.

Not “how do you do?” But “good riddance”.