COVID-19 Primer

My cousin Lena forwarded a summary from an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, focused on infectious diseases. This expert put together a fantastic list of bullet points regarding COVID-19 which I found super helpful. After some thought, I regrouped them into 3 buckets to make it easier for myself to digest.

Hope you find this helpful too.

About the Virus
  • The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.
  • Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own.  The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
  • The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat.  That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam).  By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
  • The virus molecules remain very stable in cold, moist, dark environments. For instance, in external cold, or artificial cold like air conditioners in houses and cars.  They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness.  Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.
  • The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.

What Works / is Helpful
    • Hand washing is critical. You have to wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc.  And when using the bathroom.
    • Warm water helps a LOT as heat melts fat and hence, the virus; this is why it is so good to use water above 25° Celsius / 77° F for washing hands, clothes and everything.  In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.
    • You have to moisten hands that lose moisture from so much washing, because the molecules can hide in the micro cracks.  The thicker the moisturizer, the better. 
    • Also keep your nails short so that the virus does not hide there.
    • Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% dissolves any fat, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.
    • Listerine may work!  The product sold in Canada is 65% alcohol.
  • Bleach… Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.
  • Oxygenated water helps long after soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein, but you have to use it pure and it hurts your skin.
  • UV Light appears to break down the virus protein on any object that may contain it.  For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask is perfect.  Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin, eventually causing wrinkles and skin cancer.
  • (Added item) Microwaving food, clothing, etc. appears to be useful. Microwaves agitate water molecules and other “hydroxyl groups” that have a hydrogen atom covalently bonded to an oxygen atom. So heat up take out food – 2 mins at least if you have an 800 watt device. See more info here.
  • (Abe suggestion) Gloves are more useful than masks. Per the guidance of my medical team at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, if you don’t show the symptoms of COVID-19, wearing an N95 mask has no advantage, especially since they require fit-testing for a good seal. You, with no symptoms, wearing one simply means one less mask for a healthcare worker who really needs it on the front lines. Puh-lease, don’t do that! A better practice? Use old fashioned gardening gloves to protect your hands when you shop – – and touch things like a shopping cart, buttons on credit card machine, gas pumps and door handles. An added plus: while your wearing them it’ll remind you to NOT unconsciously touch your face. Once home, wash the gloves in warm water and soap, or douse with 65% alcohol. Then, then wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • (Abe suggestion) Wash / clean your cell phones and other devices at least weekly. You bring your mouth to your cell phone when you talk. You put your fingers all over your laptop, iPad, etc., a LOT. And it sits in a 100 different places, from car seats to purses to back pockets. Could it use a cleaning? Yup. Regularly? Yup.  At the least, clean the front glass surface with a soapy sponge or a swab containing  65% alcohol.
What Does Not Help
  • Bactericide is not useful.  The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; they cannot kill what is not alive with antibiotics, but quickly disintegrate its structure with everything said.
  • Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.
  • Typical Spirits, such as vodka are not useful.  The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%.
  • NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. While it is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates in varying durations. But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose. Here’s the varying durations based on surface: 3 hours (fabric and porous), 4 hours (copper, because it is naturally antiseptic) and wood, (because it removes all the moisture and does not let it peel off and disintegrates), 24 hours (cardboard), 42 hours (metal) and 72 hours (plastic).
  • Avoid confined spaces: The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be.  The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.


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