This is Part 6 in my series with Dr. Phil Pearson on COVID-19. Dr. Pearson has practiced medicine for 39 years. He is an elder at Broadmoor Baptist, and he and his wife are well-respected members of our local community. For many years, Dr. Pearson also taught conceal-carry classes in our area.
After a recent day of running errands in our community, I was tired of taking precautions and disinfecting while many folks seemed to be throwing caution to the wind. So, I asked Dr. Pearson, “If I am a healthy person with no known underlying conditions under 60, isn’t it better to just go ahead and get it over with?”
“While it’s true that fewer young, healthy people are seriously affected than those with higher risk, you still need to consider others. If you become infected, remember the number of people you will give it to.” Dr. Pearson pointed out. “Also, keep in mind that some young healthy people have died.”
While most COVID-19 patients fully recover, some patients are presenting with issues that could last the rest of their lives.
“Some COVID-19 survivors have had lung damage that appears long-term at present. It is unknown if they will fully recover in the future,” Dr. Pearson said.
Well, so much for just getting COVID-19 over with.
A Concern about COVID-19 in children
Early in the COVID-19 outbreak, children seemed to be spared the worst of the symptoms.
Then doctors in the United Kingdom began to notice an inflammatory response in children who had tested positive for COVID-19. This inflammatory response caused a myriad of problems from heart failure to impaired kidney function.
“Some children with mild infections may develop MIS-C a month or so later,” Dr. Pearson said. “This syndrome damages several organ systems in the body. There has been one death in the United States from it so far.”
Thankfully, most children with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-c) recover. This past week, Mississippi had its first MIS-C case. This child recovered and is now home.
A few hours down the road from my hometown, a healthy 12 year-old-girl in Covington, Louisiana developed MIS-C, went into cardiac arrest, and flatlined twice. Her illness did not present with typical COVID-19 symptoms. Instead, she had severe abdominal pain and vomiting.
Symptoms that parents should watch for include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. The CDC says that not all children will have the same symptoms. Parents should seek emergency care right away if their child has trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, or severe abdominal pain.
Life after a COVID-19 infection
Immunity protection after being infected with COVID-19 is still unknown.
“We do not yet know how much immunity one gets from the infection or whether you can get the virus again,” Dr. Pearson said. “There are at least two subtypes of COVID-19 in the US. Internationally, 6 main subtypes are recognized, although some virologists say 16 types.”
“This may turn out to be like seasonal influenza in which you can get more than one infection per season,” Dr. Pearson said. “I advise those who had COVID-19 already to use caution so as not to get it again or carry it to others.”
Our immune system: The Warrior Within
One way to think of our immune systems is to imagine a medieval knight equipped with a shield and chain mail for armor as he goes into battle. The viral load in our environment is similar to arrows that assaulted knights in battle.
“In a Middle Age war, knights could be bombarded by an enormous flight of arrows,” Dr. Pearson said. “The knight’s armor and shield would stop many of the arrows, but some arrows could still get through.”
Dr. Pearson explained that in our battle against COVID-19, we can lessen the viral load that our immune systems must fight against by taking simple precautions such as staying at home when possible, wearing a mask in public places, washing hands frequently, and maintaining six feet of distance when around people outside of our household.
As we take these precautions, we reduce the “arrows” or viral load for those in our communities. While these precautions will not prevent all infections, they buy us time as scientists seek to discover how to best treat and prevent the small percent of serious cases.
When a virus or bacteria is introduced to our bodies, our immune systems begin to do amazing things.
“Our immune cells recognize a new attack by virus or bacteria. The T cells recognize a portion of the virus and then reproduce themselves many times to be able to attack the virus,” Dr. Pearson explained. “The B cells produce antibodies that then attack the virus.”
But there’s more than this two-pronged approach.
“If it is a virus that the immune system has seen before, you will already have antibodies and T cells ready to fight it and your immune system will produce more as needed,” Dr. Pearson said. “If it is a new virus and you have no prior T cells or antibodies to it, then your immune system will be slower to respond.”
“This is the concept behind immunizations,” Dr. Pearson said.
Immunization can happen when an individual develops their own immunity to disease after being exposed to it in their environment or in a vaccine. A vaccine contains dead or weakened versions of a virus. Once a human is injected with a vaccine, their bodies are able to recognize and fight future exposures to viruses. Although no process of immunization completely protects against future infections, both provide a way to increase herd immunity.
“Many of the problems we are seeing with COVID-19 are when the body produces too much immune reaction. In these cases, the immune system does damage to organs. This is what happens in MIS-C. It happens in adults and contributes to Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).”
When a person is infected with COVID-19 but does not present with any symptoms, it’s because their immune system protected them. However, they could still face consequences from the infection.
“They may be protected, but they may also have a severe post-infectious inflammatory response if their immune system overreacts.”
Fact or Fiction: COVID-19 isn’t as contagious as they thought
While I was out on errands, a local shop owner told me, “If this virus was as contagious as they say it is, we would’ve already had a widespread outbreak here. People have been going to Walmart for weeks now without a mask on.”
Dr. Pearson disagrees with the shopkeeper’s conclusion.
“This line of thinking comes from a lack of knowledge. COVID-19 is widespread. There are already many more deaths due to COVID-19 this year than we had in the 2018-2019 flu season,” Dr. Pearson pointed out.
Fact or Fiction: Death rates from COVID-19 are inflated
Some people do not trust that the number of COVID-19 deaths is accurate. They are concerned that the CDC is asking medical doctors to erroneously report COVID-19 as a cause of death when other factors were at play.
“This is simply not understanding what is involved in a person’s death. We all die of cardio-pulmonary arrest. That is, our heart stops beating and we stop breathing,” Dr. Pearson said. “The crucial question is: Why did this occur? If COVID-19 causes the blood clot, stroke, cardiac arrest or respiratory failure, then COVID-19 is correctly listed as a factor in the death.”
Dr. Pearson explained that if a person dies in a motor vehicle accident, his heart stops and he stops breathing. This is called cardiopulmonary arrest and is the proximate cause of death.
“In this example, we record that he had a massive head injury and brain death prior to the cardiopulmonary arrest. But that is not all. We must record also that the cause of the brain injury was the motor vehicle accident,” Dr. Pearson said. “You see, there is a succession of medical instances that lead up to the actual death. These are all important facts to know in determining the underlying cause of death. In this case, the underlying cause is the motor vehicle accident.”
So, what if a person with COVID-19 dies in a motor vehicle accident?
“COVID-19 would not be listed on the death certificate unless it was the direct cause,” Dr. Pearson said. “For example, if the accident was a result of the patient blacking out from hypoxia that resulted from viral pneumonia caused by COVID-19, then COVID-19 would be the cause of death.”
In such a situation, it’s still not likely COVID-19 would be listed as a cause of death on the death certificate.
“It would be very unusual for COVID-19 to be found as a cause of death in such a scenario, because most motor vehicle accidents do not have an autopsy,” Dr. Pearson said. “Plus, most motor vehicle accident autopsies are not looking for COVID-19.”
Fact or Fiction: The Plandemic Video
After watching Plandemic, which features Dr. Judy Mikovits, many citizens are questioning reports from government officials and the media about the seriousness of COVID-19. Facebook and YouTube both removed Plandemic on May 7.
Dr. Pearson is concerned about Plandemic’s impact.
“Many are being misled by her attempts to sell her book and the movie,” he said.
For those who wonder about the accuracy of Plandemic, Dr. Pearson recommends this article at Politifact.
It is unclear if Mississippi has reached its peak. During the past 10 days, the Mississippi Department of Health has reported 2,915 new positive test results. In the last nine days since Thursday, May 14, the MSDH has reported 123 new deaths. Here are the new deaths since May 14 by age group:
- 1 new death aged 18-29
- No new deaths aged 30-39
- 2 new deaths aged 40-49
- 12 new deaths aged 50-59 years
- 25 new deaths aged 60-69
- 30 new deaths aged 70-79
- 37 new deaths aged 80-89
- 16 new deaths aged 90 or older.
“I expect more infections when people are lax on safety precautions. I also expect COVID-19 to be a persistent illness for another year at a high infection rate,” Dr. Pearson said.
“After enough people are immune the rate will drop but probably not disappear. I would expect to see a yearly vaccine similar to the influenza vaccine become available.”
There’s one positive note in this COVID-19 era.
“A good effect of the COVID-19 problem is the medical community started to see how rapidly influenza dropped when people started practicing hand washing and isolation and wearing masks,” Dr. Pearson said.
“Hopefully we will be more cognizant of our ability to keep each other from having many types of illnesses including COVID-19 and other more routine infections.”
Stay safe out there, folks.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical advice. Please follow the advice of a knowledgeable family doctor and guidance from the CDC.gov.
Also, my desire is to responsibly report about top concerns surrounding COVID-19 by interviewing a trusted source. For in-depth journalism from a Biblical perspective, I highly recommend World Magazine.
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