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Сoronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and the terrifying number of deaths are all over the news. The pharmacies run out of masks, people pull sanitisers off the shelves, and everybody looks at you suspiciously if you randomly cough or sneeze. However, you shouldn’t be panicking and believe everything that pops up on your screens. It is not time to shun other people or avoid public transport. There is no need to wear the mask all the time unless you are a healthcare practitioner or were tested positive for coronavirus.
In the view of wellness trends, you might consider strengthening your immunity with supplements, vitamins, and non-traditional tools. Given the popularity of cannabis products and proven anti-inflammation and antimicrobial properties, CBD products seem to be useful for fighting with novel viruses. The studies are ongoing, and scientists all over the world focus on proving its potential for coronavirus.
In this article, we’ve collected up-to-date information you should know to take care of yourself and the closest ones. Let’s not panic and figure out the issue in more detail.
All you need to know about coronavirus
What is so special about coronavirus?
You may be surprised, but the word “coronavirus” refers to several viruses that cause diseases such as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and COVID-19. The name comes from the look of virions — virus particles. According to Queensland Health, virions seem to have a “crown” when the virus is examined with a microscope. Novel coronavirus, named COVID-19, was discovered in 2019 when some people in Wuhan, China, began to get pneumonia after having an illness similar to the flu. After testing, the doctors found out that these people suffered from an unknown type of coronavirus.
Coronavirus gets into the body just like any other viruses: microscopic organisms enter a human body, live, and multiply inside. After making its way into the body, the immune system begins to attack it and strives to kill it. As it has the ability to remember the virus, it can get rid of an unwanted guest if it ever appears again.
However, viruses can change, making it hard for the immune systems to recognise and attack them. That’s how we get new types of Viruses, just like COVID-19.
Below you can see the differences in fatality rates, incubation and contagious periods of different viruses.
Source: WHO, CDC, NIH, DOL, NYT, Chinese Ministry of Health, Investment Strategy Group
Сoronavirus SARS-CoV-2, known as COVID-19, can lead to acute respiratory failure, but its mortality rate doesn’t exceed 2%, which is way below other well-known diseases. See the chart below for the data on fatality rate in 2018.
Source: WHO, CDC, NYT, Investment Strategy Group
The distinctive feature of this disease is that it evolved in the human body and gained the ability to be transferred from human to human, becoming common. The virus is unpredictable and dangerous. Why? Well, let’s consider an example. There was a case when some Americans travelling on a cruise liner in Japan had no symptoms even though they had a virus. Moreover, it may be transferred from one person to another, also if the symptoms are not yet present.
Speaking of symptoms of coronavirus, the most common ones include:
- high temperature
- shortness of breath
The catch is these symptoms may be similar to other illnesses such as cold or flu but do not necessarily mean you have got the virus.
So far, it is not known exactly how coronavirus spreads from human to human. Similar viruses can be spread via airborne droplets. Fortunately, it’s highly unlikely it can be spread through things such as parcels or food. The incubation period of the coronavirus is from 2 to 14 days. However, the latest findings showed that SARS-CoV-2 was detectable with the longest observed duration of viral shedding in survivors was 37 days.
How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus?
UK National Health Service (NHS) has published some recommendations that lower the risks of catching the virus:
- Wash hands with soap and water often at least for 20 seconds, especially when you get home or to work.
- Use hand sanitisers if there is no soap and water.
- Use a tissue to cover mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Sleeve also works; just do not use hands.
- Throw away tissues that were used and wash your hands thoroughly after that.
- Avoid close contact with people who feel unwell.
- Do not touch your nose, eyes, or mouth with dirty hands.
You might wonder where there is a recommendation about the mask. Well, masks are useful in the following cases:
- infected patients that may spread the virus
- healthcare professionals working in high-risk environments.
However, frequent handwashing remains far more effective than wearing a mask.
It may be the right idea to avoid shaking hands. There is no need to turn into a misanthrope and paniс each time when greeting someone, but it is necessary to consider the interactions with other people and with public surfaces. It is highly recommended to clean all frequently-touched surfaces, such as phones or keyboards.
Where to obtain medical help?
Have doubts if you need medical help or not? NHS 111 provides an online coronavirus service that consults you if you need medical help and advises what you should do. You may call 111 if you need to speak to someones; just do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Use this service if:
- you assume you might have coronavirus
- you’ve been to a country or area with a high coronavirus risk in the last 14 days
- you’ve contacted someone with coronavirus closely
The same number works for getting help in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. In Scotland, you may also call your GP surgery.
The places with a high risk of coronavirus include Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, Taiwan, Tenerife — only the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.
If there’s a risk you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to self-isolate, meaning enjoying the company of yourself and avoiding other contacts. In such a case you should:
- stay at home
- not go to public places as well as work or school
- not use public transport or taxis
- ask friends, family members or delivery services to bring food and do errands for you
- not to invite anyone to your home
You shall do this up to 14 days as it may help reduce the possible spread of infection.
So far, there is no specific medicines or treatment for coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not fight off viruses. Generally, treatment aims to alleviate the symptoms while you are fighting the illness. Infected patients need to stay in isolation away from other people until they recover.
Can cannabis and CBD help fight with coronavirus?
Why does immunity matter?
The immune system is a “guard” of your body. Equipped with biological structures and processes, it protects your body against diseases. If it functions properly, an immune system can detect pathogens, from viruses to parasites, distinguish them from the healthy tissue and act against them. There are mostly two subsystems of the immune system: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. Adaptive responses learn from previous personal experiences with other viruses, which explains why people respond differently to the COVID-19 virus.
Processes of the immune system are controlled by the endocannabinoid system (ECS), made of receptors responsive to the body’s endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids, such as CBD (cannabidiol), found in the hemp plant. The ECS helps to maintain the balance of body systems, including the endocrine system and hormones, the nervous system and neurotransmitters, and the immune system and its parts such as T cells, cytokines, and macrophages. This is important in the immune response to keep it in balance and prevent over-reactions that can be damaging to the body. Therefore, cannabinoids affect the body’s response to viruses and are considered to have potential in fighting with COVID-19.
CBD’s potential for managing coronavirus
So far, there are no studies regarding CBD and coronavirus, and CBD is not considered a cure for the coronavirus in humans. Still, it has numerous useful properties that may address the issue.
Multiple studies have found that CBD can influence the immune system. That is important as, in many cases, it is not the viral infection that kills but the body’s own immune system’s response. More specifically, CBD happened to have anti-inflammatory properties, and act as an immunosuppressant and immunomodulator. This bi-directional interaction means that CBD can adapt the immune system response to the current state of the body and cells, suppressing over-reactions, and increasing under-reactions.
There is evidence that cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors may influence the immune system, viral pathogenesis, and viral replication. CBD’s effects may change depending on the state of the immunity system.
Its suppressive effect on the immunity system is useful in specific cases such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory conditions, and neuroinflammation that may cause anxiety and depression. CBD may calm a heightened immune response, such as inflammation. The studies on mice have shown that prophylactic treatment with CBD may reduce inflammation in acute lung injury. For that reason, the cannabidiol may become a useful tool for the alleviation and treatment of inflammatory lung diseases.
To make sure that CBD may act as an immunomodulator, we should consider other studies on CBD interaction with various viruses. Along with potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, CBD administration during viral infection may cause long-lasting effects, alleviating motor deficits in the chronic phase of the disease and encourage cytokine production.
Have you ever heard about “cellular suicide”? Programmed cell death, named apoptosis, is an essential physiological mechanism as it helps to regulate embryonic development, cell differentiation, and tissue turnover. As for the immune system, it helps to get rid of infected cells. Studies have shown that CBD might induce significantly more cell deaths in virally infected cells but not healthy ones.
CBD may also inhibit virus replication, which has been shown in a study on cannabidiol for the treatment of viral hepatitis.
CBD’s biphasic effect also emerges in its interaction with interferons. The latter are signalling proteins that are produced and released from cells in response to virus infection. In the case of chronic inflammation and autoimmune, CBD can suppress interferon. However, when fighting off a viral infection, such as HIV, it causes no such effect.
The immune system consists of various adaptive and dynamic components. They are regulated to provide an appropriate, accurate, and fast response to unknown pathogens. A postponed or inadequate immune response may prolong disease, and an excessive or uncontrolled response can lead to autoimmunity — immune responses acting against own healthy cells and tissues. The cytokine, interleukin-2 (IL-2), and its receptor IL-2R are highly important in maintaining this balance. CBD can either suppress or encourage IL-2 and IFN-γ production following optimal or suboptimal T cell activation. The immune system uses IL-2 to detect foreign and own parts and fight infection. T lymphocytes, known as T cells, are important for an immune response, including the activation of immune cells to fight infection. T cells can actively destroy infected cells and signal other immune cells to take part in the immune response. The level of T cells in the lungs is highly important when managing a coronavirus such as COVID-19. Usually, SARS, HIV, and COVID-19 viruses lead to a decrease in the virus-specific T cells during the acute phase of the disease.
CBD can suppress the activity of interferon and IL2 during a heightened activity of T cells while encouraging them if T cells activity is not sufficient.
Levels of T cells in the lungs plays an important role when managing new coronaviruses.
Human and animal studies suggest that potent virus-specific T cell response may help protect against lethal SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV). When developing future vaccines, scientists may consider ways to enhance T cell response to provide reliable long-term tissue memory. Improving a local and systemic memory T cell response may become a useful strategy than any of these processes alone.
Moreover, a study on mice suggested that prophylactic treatment with CBD may reduce inflammation during acute lung injury. Therefore someday cannabidiol may become a useful tool for the alleviation of inflammatory lung diseases.
CBD products can interact with the endocannabinoid system that regulates the immune system in a way of providing the balance in the immune system response to viruses, including the COVID-19. This helps the immune system to adjust, suppressing harmful over-reactions, and improving ineffective under-reactions.
Does CBD vaping help with coronavirus?
In short, vaping is not recommended during any respiratory diseases, even if vape liquids are enriched with cannabidiol. CBD products have pain-relieving, sleep-inducing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, but inhaling hot vapour is the last thing lungs need when fighting a disease.
However, there is no strict prohibition or research regarding CBD vaping effect on coronavirus. Let’s consider the issue in greater detail.
Generally, those who smoke or vape have their lung health compromised. One large study in China showed that more men were infected than women. Further reports speculated that as more men smoke, then smoking may be the reason for higher rates of infection and death. The exposure to tobacco and cigarettes may impair the body’s ability to fight off infection, as smokers’ lungs specifically have difficulty with responding to infection. It is not known precisely whether smokers are more susceptible to novel COVID-19 cardiovascular. One should also consider co-morbidities, such as heart diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases.
As for vaping, including CBD vaping, a study published in 2020 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that even though e-cigarettes seem to be safer than common cigarettes, people who vaped were about 30% per cent more likely to get a chronic lung disease. The study used the data of 32,000 adults who didn’t have a lung-disease in 2013 and tested them in 2016. Therefore, vaping can damage lungs, though at a significantly lower rate than traditional cigarettes. However, the study has also shown that many people can vape and smoke, which only increases damage.
The latest studies on mice showed damaging effects of vaping. The research discovered that Vitamin E acetate might cause lung damage in those who vape. Smoke and second-hand smoke cause inflammation and suppressed immune response in mice. The study suggested that regular vaping changes the ability of the animal to respond to infection. It’s important to mention that the lungs were generally compromised, except for any specific vulnerabilities to COVID-19. However, there is a high chance that vaping, especially vaping with THC, the psychoactive compound may change the ability of the lungs to manage the infection.
There is also a recommendation for the vapers not to share vape pens or other stuff such as bongs. Passing around personal things is a good way to spread any virus, such as COVID-19. So try to stick to your supply.
The NHC and the UK government stance on coronavirus
The UK Chief Medical Officers have evaluated the risk of coronavirus to the public from low to moderate. Health professionals keep contacting anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
On March 3, the UK government published the coronavirus action plan. A bit earlier, Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced strengthened legal powers to protect public health. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 have been established to lower the risk of further human-to-human transmission in the UK. The Regulation implies keeping individuals in isolation if public health professionals consider that an individual may have the virus.
The UK Coronavirus Action Plan
The plan is a document that reflects what the UK has done to manage the coronavirus and what it plans to do, considering the experience with other infectious diseases and influenza pandemic preparedness work. The exact response to COVID-19 will be adjusted to the nature, scale, and location of the virus in the UK as long as the understanding of the virus develops.
The coronavirus action plan sets out:
- the information about the virus and the disease it may cause
- the plans regarding infectious disease outbreak such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- the actions taken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak
- the plans depending on the COVID-19 outbreak
- the current role of the public in supporting this response and its role in the future
- COVID-19 outbreak occurred in December 2019 and became a severe challenge for the entire world. Fortunately, the UK government and the health and social care system, have planned over the years for such an issue and prepared to respond in a way that ensures substantial protection to the public.
The United Kingdom has got a prototype specific laboratory test for the new type of coronavirus. After the outbreaks of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, PHE created diagnostic tests for coronavirus detection. They have also been used to detect the cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012. Working with WHO and a global network of laboratories, PHE has developed further specific tests for novel coronavirus. Healthcare professionals were advised to submit the samples of travellers, coming back from an affected area, to Public Health England (PHE).
This is how the process works. If a healthcare specialist suspects novel coronavirus, he takes samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory samples, packs carefully and sends them to PHE Colindale. PHE can deliver a laboratory result, find out the viral genome, and compare it to published sequences from China if it occurs through testing. The tests help to get the data on any mutations in the virus over time and provide an understanding of how it can spread.
What about the vaccine?
It seems to be easy: the Chinese government has taken measures to prevent the transmission of the virus and quarantined some areas. They claimed to strengthen its measures further, such as checking the temperature of people in some provinces. Nevertheless, the virus keeps spreading to other countries.
It took a couple of weeks for Chinese scientists to know the genome of the virus and share this knowledge with experts all over the world.
However, the process is much more complicated than it seems, and here are some reasons:
- It is a challenging process
Creating a vaccine is a kind of art. Not in a sense, that the scientists need inspiration and long talks under the moonlight, but approach matters. They need to produce such a vaccine that will activate the immune system but won’t cause the symptoms of the disease that may also be tough. For that reason, clinical trials on animals and then on humans are needed. It is a long process and may take more than a year before the vaccine will be considered safe and effective. Moreover, it will need more time to manufacture and distribute it, which is difficult in the time of quarantine.
- High cost
Clinical trials and needed equipment are highly likely to require millions of US dollars. That is a backbreaking burden for state institutions and small companies. Pharmaceutical giants are unlikely to invest in it due to the risk of financial losses caused by low demand and compensations for harm caused by vaccines.
Many institutions from pharmaceutical companies such as Inovio and Moderna to Imperial College of London and National healthcare institutes in the USA are trying to create the vaccine. The share prices of Inovio have doubled thanks to the media spreading news about the new vaccine that has been created, even though they just copied the RNA gene as many other companies did. However, the RNA fragment can be used for vaccine creation.
The era of “infodemic”
The coronavirus outbreak in 2019 has given rise to a massive and dangerous phenomenon, called ‘infodemic.’ This is a term for an over-abundance of information, including both accurate and misleading data. The abundance of information makes it hard for the public to find trustworthy sources if needed, and they can easily get “infected” with inaccurate information. There are two significant dangers. First, fake ideas can spread without direct contact. These false rumours keep spreading through social media, messengers, books on Amazon, and even the mainstream media. Second, people spread conspiracy theories actively, just like the virus does. Viruses may cause death, and conspiracy theories can bring no less harm. Various conspiracy theories became popular. Have you heard that the coronavirus might have been caused by radiation from 5G masts? There is more to that. By bombarding the news about coronavirus, the media may cover the economic crash or financial crisis that may occur following Brexit.
China’s economic and political growth makes its neighbours and rival countries jealous and anxious. The common question that lies within conspiracy theory is who can benefit from it? As for coronavirus, some could benefit from China’s hardships. Moreover, conspiracy theories may tempt to hide bad news, distract the public eye from government failures, or use political advantage in spreading fake information.
Spreading medical misinformation about the coronavirus via social media looks less extreme but potentially holds more dangers. Using non-traditional remedies such as warm salty water has no proof to prevent the disease and may even worsen the condition. Wearing masks or even plastic bags on the head won’t do any good. Medical misinformation may confuse the people and make them ignore medical advice. These actions, along with not getting tested and unnecessary self-isolation, may lead to spreading the infection and wreak havoc.
There were a bunch of various cases when fake news was considered to be true or caused panic. One interesting example concerns cannabis. Many internet searches were asking if cannabis can kill the coronavirus. This interest was linked to a Twitter meme, claiming that marijuana may effectively treat coronavirus. The false image was headlined “Breaking News — Weed Kills Coronavirus” and had spread widely on messengers and social media platforms. The image was claimed to be untrue, as the World Health Organization officially stated that there is no medication currently available to treat COVID-19. Even though the WHO supports the intention to develop the vaccine and clinical trials are underway, no cure has been created. The interesting fact is that misleading information attracted massive online attention, which may prove global awareness of cannabis benefits. A growing amount of studies suggest that cannabis may be useful in fighting against superbugs, thanks to its antimicrobial qualities.
Easy access to accurate information may solve the issue with “infodemic.” Social media companies began to fight with misinformation, often by working with the WHO to control and respond to myths and rumours. Together with its headquarters in Geneva, regional offices, and partners, the WHO works to identify the most common and dangerous rumours and then refute them with evidence-based information. Google has created an SOS alert, placing WHO information to the top of search results, and Tiktok has hosted a WHO account. Mark Zuckerberg wrote a post stressing Facebook dedication against misinformation on coronavirus. The WHO places trustworthy health information and advice on its social media channels and website. The WHO has collected the most popular myth busters regarding coronavirus. It is worth visiting as not to manage coronavirus using a hot bath, ultraviolet disinfection, or spraying alcohol all over your body.
What may happen in the future?
The impact on the cannabis industry
The retailers of cannabis products say the novel coronavirus COVID-19 causes significant delays in product orders. Most of the companies deliver components from China and claim that the delivery process slows down. Chinese factories manufacture up to 90% of vape products sold worldwide. Typically, cannabis companies buying products from China expect a winter delivery disruption of approximately a month surrounding Lunar New Year, but novel coronavirus is considered to last longer.
Large cannabis companies had a chance to prepare in advance, store sufficient inventory beforehand, and maintain close relationships with suppliers to lower the overall disruption. However, smaller and less-resourced companies haven’t been able to do the same and may face shortages of cannabis products.
The potential problems may be caused by concerns about vaping-related diseases and lung injuries. Moreover, it’s unclear whether a person can get coronavirus by touching a surface that has the virus on it, such as parcels. The latest study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection suggests that SARS, HCoV and MERS coronaviruses can remain on inanimate surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days, but can be inactivated by disinfection procedures with 62–71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite within 1 minute.
“Cancel everything” measures
Many international cannabis industry conferences and trade shows have been cancelled or postponed, which may turn out to be costly for some participants, especially young cannabis companies. The organisers of other events are proceeding with their plans but keep controlling the global outbreak of the coronavirus. The economic consequences of all events’ cancellations and sports and theme park closures are estimated at million US dollars. The decision is not being made lightly but aims to slow down the spread of the virus. COVID-19 expansion may overload healthcare systems all over the world that don’t have the means to manage a sudden increase in cases at once. Restrictive measures are called “flattening the curve.” Epidemiologists assume that with no strict actions, the virus can escalate quickly and overwhelm hospitals. In such a case, more people can die due to the lack of lung ventilation equipment, hospital beds, or insufficient medical staff.
But if the same number of cases happen in a longer period, not exceeding the healthcare system’s capacity, then more people may get proper care, and more healthcare specialists can avoid burnout and diseases.
In March 2020, the WHO declared the quickly spreading novel coronavirus a pandemic, considering that the virus will likely to spread to all countries worldwide.
The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch suggests that within the coming year, up to 70 per cent of people all over the world may be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The good news is that not all the people will get severely ill, some may have mild disease with no symptoms. Epidemiologists suggest that coronavirus may become a new seasonal disease. If people will not develop a long-lasting immunity to coronavirus and if the disease will remain severe, the season of cold, flu, and COVID-19 may come.
Handshakes have always been an ultimate social gesture, but it’s no longer the case. More and more people from managers to government leaders replace it with something else. In joint research, anthropologist Neil Gerlach and Sheryl Hamilton of Carleton University in Ottawa assessed the changes in human behavioural rituals. They suggested living in a time of heightened disease awareness. They defined it as a ‘pandemic culture’ that changes the way people behave in public and privately with each other. Both specialists mentioned great attention to the safety and cleanliness of surfaces. People are more likely to proceed with the same actions with no contact means, including a nod of the head or a smile. The distinctive feature of pandemic culture is that these changes may remain after coronavirus. The concept of personal space may also change. As for now, some cultures, such as North Americans and Europeans, prefer to leave more space around them than Asian people. Hamilton suggests that this may break class lines rather than cultural ones during the time of frequent epidemics. ‘Pandemic culture’ might also influence significant cultural events such as multiple cancellations.
Why don’t you try to imagine what the world may be like after coronavirus? You may also rely on technologies. For example, there is Plague Inc. — a popular mobile video game in which players create diseases and try to eradicate humanity. The game has got substantial positive critical reception, with many players describing it as a ‘realistic outbreak simulator.’ This game may be considered a result of ‘pandemic culture,’ which tells how the danger of pandemic may change ordinary life. The popularity of Plague Inc. can be explained by massive public worries about viruses and other infectious diseases. But before you take your phone and start to play, we beg you — wash your hands. Take care and be well.
Continue at: https://medium.com/alphagreen/drop-the-masks-the-ultimate-guide-on-coronavirus-cannabis-bf6e0ef8b192
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