Answers To Frequently Ask Questions About COVID-19

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Medical personnel secure a sample from a person at a drive-thru Coronavirus COVID-19 testing station at a Kaiser Permanente facility on March 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Kaiser Permanente has opened a drive-thru Coronavirus test station where patients who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus can be referred by a physician to be tested. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Coronavirus incidents keep increasing and the world is becoming more and more aware of the virus, many people have more questions concerning the virus, it’s contraction method, it’s targeting and so on, all to better understand what they are dealing with and to help them out, PEOPLE has enlisted two experts to take away people’s doubts and enlighten them more about the conditions at hand. 

Are there different strains of the COVID-19 virus?
According to Dr Jeffrey Klausner, MD, MPH, an infectious disease expert at UCLA Medical Center, there are different strains of the virus which is quite expected; he adds, “Any RNA virus [such as COVID-19] mutates on an ongoing, regular basis.”

Dr Klausner believes that the severity of an individual’s illness actually depends on each individual as he says, “The reason people get sick is from their individual, unique immunologic response. People with severe heart disease, if their body starts fighting the infection and their heart rate goes up, they can’t tolerate that very well. If people have severe lung disease and they have more fluid in their lungs, they can’t tolerate that change very well. So really it depends more, at least based on our current understanding, on the individual and their characteristics than the virus.”

The FDA is testing a malaria drug as a possible treatment — will it work?
According to the good doctor, it is all a probability for now and even that probability is still months away from being confirmed as the FDA still needs to rest the chloroquine which is the malaria drug in question in humans for about six months. He further added that “There is laboratory-based research in cells and culture systems that malaria drugs do have some antiviral effects, but we really need to see what happens in humans, we’ve been falsely optimistic for years, based on what experimental studies show in laboratories and even in animals, but we need to do human clinical trials first.”

Until the testing and confirmation are over, he says, “I would not recommend people use malaria drugs until we have strong evidence in humans through placebo-controlled clinical trials.” And asides from Chloroquine, other drugs have been employed to tackle the virus and treat it like Remdesivir, which was used to treat Ebola patients during its outbreak, and Actemra, which is typically used for arthritis.

Are men getting infected at a higher rate than women?
So far such has not been confirmed to be true; although some countries have recorded higher cases in men than in women says Dr Robert Norton, who is a professor of public health at Auburn University as he says, “I haven’t seen any data from either the CDC or WHO that definitively indicates males are more susceptible. It’s too soon to definitively know.”

Does ibuprofen worsen COVID-19 symptoms?
Both Drs. Norton and Klausner do not believe that the conditions of a patient with COVID-19 worsen with the intake of ibuprofen. Although a small study in France believes and says that the patient’s fare worse after taking it, Dr Klausner says, “It doesn’t appear to be harmful from the information I’ve seen,” and Dr Norton adds, “I haven’t seen any data on this.”

Are younger people more vulnerable than initially thought?
Although there have been indications and data that negate this idea — one of such is from researches from China which found that the majority of the fatalities that occurred were in people over 60 years of age thereby indicating that younger adults were largely spared CDC has in a way debunked such — coming from the first CDC report on cases in the U.S. which found out that of almost 2,500 COVID-19 patients recorded, 55% of hospitalizations were of people aged 20 to 64.

Dr Klausner is very much sceptical about these records as he says, “The CDC said 40% of hospitalized cases in this 2,500 were 20 to 44 years of age. But the population of people 20 to 44 years of age is two or three times that of the elderly population. There’s no evidence of any change or any increased risk in young people.”

Does a person’s blood type make them more or less vulnerable to COVID-19?
Dr Klausner believes that one’s blood type has nothing to do with the risks related to contraction of the virus and the rate of development of the virus in the body and it won’t make a difference in the severity of illness either, rather, he believes that age is a more clinically viable factor  as he says, “The strongest predictor of clinical outcome and severity is age.”